yarbrough&peoples

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On this day in music history: February 28, 1981 - “Don’t Stop The Music” by Yarbrough & Peoples hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #19 on the Hot 100 on April 11, 1981. Written by Jonah Ellis, Alisa Peoples and Lonnie Simmons, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the Dallas, TX based R&B duo. Consisting of keyboardist Cavin Yarbrough and lead vocalist and keyboardist Alisa Peoples, the pair have known each other since childhood, when both took piano lessons from the same teacher. They remain lifelong friends, eventually forming a duo after Yarbrough works as touring musician for Leon Russell, during which time he meets Charlie, Ronnie and Robert Wilson of The Gap Band. The Wilson brothers are instrumental in Yarbrough & Peoples signing to producer Lonnie Simmons’ Total Experience Records. Once they are under contract, Simmons has Cavin and Alisa work with songwriter and musician Jonah Ellis on their debut album. Originally titled “When The Music Stops”, Ellis comes up with the basic structure of the song on guitar and a Roland CR-78 drum machine. Simmons suggests a title change, as well as changing the bass line and keyboards during recording. Ellis also brings in drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett (The Jacksons, Madonna) to play live drums on top of the programmed drum track, and The Waters on background vocals. Released as a single in November of 1980, “Don’t Stop The Music” quickly becomes a huge hit on R&B radio. Its success in that format is so great that it unexpectedly crosses over to Top 40 pop radio. During a period when many R&B artists have been effectively “blacklisted” from pop radio airplay in the years following the end of the Disco Era, Yarbrough & Peoples’ crossover success is a significant feat, especially for a new artist. The success of the single also sends the duos debut album “The Two Of Us” to number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number sixteen on the Top 200, and going Gold in the US. “Don’t Stop The Music” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.