Soul Treasures
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Dan Fordham
Robbie Cunningham

Out of Brooklyn, New York comes a group consisting of four guys whom you may have heard before! The Invitations invite you to listen to and enjoy their honest, hot urban sounds. While they are a strong group, each of the members can stand alone and carry mellow lead. Both Robert "Bob" Blanding and Herman "Co" Cofield carry first and second tenor, while O'neil "Duke" Johnson and Wilson "Gary" Gant deliver a second tenor and baritone.

"Over the years we've become more than friends," says Gary. During their friendship and partnership, the quartet wrote a tune that they thought would be a hit for them, which eventually got them signed with Silver Blue Records (distributed by Polydor Incorporated). That song was "They Say the Girl is Crazy", which resulted in their first smash record for the Silver Blue label. In addition to zooming to #1 on the airwaves in parts of the United States, it established The Invitations on every R&B station in the country.

"The Invitations are a very hard working group," says Duke. "We try to sing ourselves into the hearts and memories of everyone that we've performed for." They have toured Bermuda, The Princess South Hampton, England, North and South Germany, Spain, Sweden and Amsterdam. Among their television appearances, Ebony Affair brings back many fond memories for Cofield, while Bob remembers record breaking performances with The Temptations at The Howard in Washington, D.C., and with The Dells at The Scope in Norfolk, VA. "We would like to think that [our years of] association with other artists and behind-the-scenes representatives of the music industry , [has given us] a great knowledge of the business, while obtaining an even greater love for the knowledge [of] the international language" says Gary.

The present group members now consist of Richie Pitts, Alvin Ham, Robert Blanding and Gary Gant.
Wilson Gant
Wilson Gants early aspirations was to become an entertainer period. So he started out in Jr. high and high school performing in the choir, marching band and orchestras. While in the U.S. Navy he Formed a group named after the ship he serve on called The Champlains. As good fortunes would have it we signed with United Artist.

When leaving the military he moved to Brooklyn, NY. It was only a matter of a few months before he started performing with a dance team called the Magnificent Three. He then help to form a singing group at a local but well known venue in Brooklyn, NY. called the Five Twenty One Club. All of the local groups and lots of well known acts performed there.
They sang every wakeing minute of the day and night in hallways, street corners, rehearsals at anyone's home. It was during this era that he was so blessed to meet Richie Pitts, Robert Blanding and Alvin Ham. But they were all in differant groups.In the later part of 1963 Gary as his friends called him was ask to fill in at a baritone slot for a group called the TipToppers they had just returned from Sweden and was about to return but had lost a member. The group worked well together with Roy Jolly as Lead singer, Billy Morris, Robert Rivers and Gary Gant sharing most of the background duties. Their big break came when they Changed their Name to the Invitations and signed a contract with Dyno-Voice Records. Their hits were What's Wrong With Me Baby, Skiing In The Snow and Hallelujah this was Bob Crewe Productions. It was also the home of The Four Seasons and The Toys. Their sister group at the time. Then there was a one recorded Deal with MGM.

In the early 70's they produced a recording session with Lew Kirton and recorded "They Say The Girls Crazy" written by Gary Gant and O'neil Johnson to make a long story short it was follow by Look On The Good Side and Let's Love on Sliver Blue Records.

Robert Blanding
Robert Blanding first performed while still in high school with a group known as The Rainbows. As the story goesfor their very first engagement they had no uniforms but every one was to wear a jacket. They all came with jackets of a different color so they called themselves the Rainbows. They toured the south and appeared at Colleges such as Morris College and venues in the Columbia and Sumter, SC. area. Upon arriving in Brooklyn, NY.

Robert formed his first band called The Road Runners and later the band (TIC) Together In Confidence. Robert Like lots of great Singers, Band Leaders and performers had a chance to work with some of the best artist around in those days. Opening for a show with Kool And The Gang. performing with the Manhattans and the Mad Lads. From the late 60's Robert Blanding and Gary Gant formed a relationship where he would visit the Invitations in concert when they performed in the New York area and the Invitations did like wise with (TIC).

However in 1973 the bonds grew even closer when (TIC) and Gary Gant of the Invitations work together on a local promoted show where Gary Gant was filling in for another artist in a group that was missing a baritone singer. From that point on they kept in touch. The Invitations had their release on Silver Blue Records "They Say The Girls Crazy" at that time recalls Robert. Better known to his Co-Artist as Bob. However in the late 70's lead singer Lew Kirton went solo.

Alvin Ham
Alvin Ham sang with various groups in the 50's, during these years Al as he is known to his friends became one of the premier tenors. he was compared to the tenors of groups such as The Moonglows, The Dells etc; singing first tenor was his passion. But you could count on him to also carry a mellow lead. In the 50's Alvin recorded with his childhood friend Richie Pitts for Baton records as the Newtones and the Strangers on Warner Bros. one release was a song called Night Winds. Al has also recorded on the labels MGM and Paramount records. It was these years that allow him to reunite with long time friends Herman Cofield and Gary Gant.

From the 60's well into the late 90's Al collaborated with the Invitations on several recording projects as well as the promotion and production of quite a few shows in New York and the surrounding area.

The Invitations could always count on Alvin whenever they needed a stand in for gigs or another rich tenor voice at one of there many recording sessions. His expertise in the music field were enhanced by working with some of the top producers and A&R men in the business such as Richard Barett, Buzzy Willis and Bert Keyes.
Richie Pitts
Richie Pitts known through out the UK and other parts of the world such as Japan, Portugaal etc; Has been dubed as Mr. Fantastic and that he is. In the 50's Richie sang with such groups as the Newtons and the Strangers out of Brooklyn NY. In these groups were childhood and life long friends Alvin Ham and Herman Cofield. during these early years all the group singers knew each other and would not hesitate together in a club or on a street corner just to sing harmony. Along came the 60's and Richie was well known in the music circles for not only his performing, but also for his contributions at recording sessions as a background vocalist. Often at these sessions he would work with Gary Gant "a member of The Invitations" writing and Co-Producing together. Richie eventually joined the Velours and in the late 60's coming from a rehearsal ran into the Invitations. Who had just returned from the UK.

Dyno Voice 206 Hallelujah /Written On The Wall 1965
Dyno Voice 210 Why Did My Baby Turn Bad /
What's Wrong With Me Baby
Dyno Voice 215 Why Did My Baby Turn Bad /
Skiing In The Snow
MGM 13574 Girl I'm Leaving You / The Skate 1966
MGM 13666 Watch Out Little Girl / You're Like A Mystery 1967
Diamond 253 Got To Have It Now / Swingin' On A Love Vine 1968
Big Tree 253 A Wednesday In Your Garden /
Frank's Folly
Silver Blue 801 For Your Precious Love /
They Say The Girl's Crazy
804 Let's Love / Love Has To Grow 1973
809 Living Together Is keeping Us Apart /
I Didn't Know
818 Look On The Good Side / (inst.) 1974
Red Greg 211/2 We Don't Allow / Funky Road 1977
Invite no # The Best Of The Invitations(CD)
1. Save Your Love For Me
2. Every Little Drop
3. I Surrender
4. This Love Is For You
5. Together You And I
6. Twelves Midnight
7. Funly Road
8. We Don't Allow No
9. Get It Together
10. They Say The Girls Crazy
Invite Precious Love (CD)
Invite After Midnight (CD)
Invite Missing You (CD, Digital LP)
1. Gotta Win Your Love
2. Come Get Some Of This
3. It Was A Woman
4. Missing You
5. Cruise Anthem
6. Like A Love Song
7. Dream On
8. Heavenly Love
9. Sweet, Sweet Love
10. Don't Quit/Keep Striving
Soul Junction It Was A Woman 2010

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