Motown Magic

M otown is back! Prepare to immerse yourself in the Motown sound—music that spun gold for the hitmakers of the 1970s—as the vocal group Masters of Soul (MOS) takes the stage at the Springfield Arts Center. MOS is preparing a soul music reunion of beloved and renowned Motown acts of the 1970s. The most iconic […]

Masters of Soul’s ’70s hits at Springfield Arts Center


The Masters of Soul singers will embody The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Four Tops, The Supremes, James Brown, and many others.

By Tammy Newsom

Motown is back! Prepare to immerse yourself in the Motown sound—music that spun gold for the hitmakers of the 1970s—as the vocal group Masters of Soul (MOS) takes the stage at the Springfield Arts Center. MOS is preparing a soul music reunion of beloved and renowned Motown acts of the 1970s. The most iconic names in music, some of which were first discovered in the 1960s, originated from Detroit, the Motor City. It was aptly renamed Motown by the music industry. Songs from groups such as The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, James Brown, and Tina Turner will all be pulled from the vault during the show.

MOS, a Virginia-based group, just finished a tour and is coming to Springfield for the first time at the invitation of the Springfield Arts Council, as part of the Summer Arts Festival. John Hodges, vocalist and MOS front man, has been playing under the name the TFC Band for 40 years. The TFC Band added vocalists to its existing 4-piece to create Masters of Soul nearly 12 years ago to cover all of the Motown portions of the show. 

“TFC Band wanted to spice up its tour. The idea came to us about bringing back memories of Motown. We’d introduce a ‘special guest’ and then get a round of applause for an Al Green song, then Aretha Franklin, then play a few more tunes, and then get back to Motown. We decided to put the tribute act together to incorporate that sound into another show,” says Hodges, who still plays with both groups. The TFC Band included covers of well-known artists from the Motown era, while most of the groups were still rising on the charts. MOS was started from the TFC, through agents at East Coast Entertainment. They suggested the idea since the band already performed Motown tribute music from the Temptations and other artists, to put together an entire Motown tribute act. MOS then incorporated 6 singers with TFC. “We started putting it together in the basement,” Hodges says. TFC played smaller gigs around town, and up and down the east coast. “We would do wedding receptions with the TFC Band and then go out on a tour tribute to Motown,” says Hodges, who still plays with both groups.

“All the rap and hip-hop stuff came into evolution then and we decided to put together a wholesome show takes you back to the Motown era,” Hodges says. “Sweet harmonies applied to the show for those who just want to sit back and listen.”

The original TFC Band members, and MOS backup, are Oscar Waters on bass, Al Huntley on drums, Dentro Ford on lead guitar, and Travis Domio on keyboards.

“TFC Band plays the backup for our vocalists for the entire show. So, the music is live and none of it is taped. This is a high energy show,” says Hodges. “Expect fast choreography, uniforms, and to have fun. This type of show will bring in families from ages 8 to 80. Grandmothers and grandchildren, as long as they’re loving the music, will be singing along to the words.”

MOS female vocalists are Lady Dee, Shanee, and Joyce Bowers. Male vocalists are Dario Outlaw, Ron Smith, and Hodges.

As a bass singer, Hodges is preparing a special tribute to Barry White and Isaac Hayes during the performance. “Everybody has various lead parts. You’ll see James Brown, who does the steps and the splits and Marvin Gaye keeps moving and pulls out all the stops,” he says. “We will get people singing and out of their seats by the time the show ends.”

The TFC Band is in the process of recording an album and once that is released, it will be another avenue for TFC to concentrate on, while making the Masters of Soul the best show to bring the family to. MOS performs live concerts and performing arts centers for a full 90-minute to two-hour set. “This is like Motown guru Barry Gordy, who set up shows for the Temptations and the Four Tops at places like the Apollo,” says Hodges. “Basically, just sit back and watch us go to work.”

Masters of Soul is appearing as part of the Summer Arts Music Festival on June 29 at 8:00 p.m. at Veterans Park Amphitheatre, 250 Cliff Park Rd, Springfield. The performance is free, but donations will be accepted at the door. For more information about the Masters of Soul and other upcoming performances, visit www.springfieldartscouncil.org or call 937.324.2712. 

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