Velbert Lewis, known to most as simply Vel, is the artist who composed, arranged and produced Shady Grady's "All Wound Up" that featured radio cuts "Groovette", the title track "All Wound Up", "Shake It Down" featuring Michael Paulo on sax, and what became the most played single in the U.K., "Let It Ride". He also composed and sang lead vocal on the U.K. hit "Tell Me Why". While listening to his new single release entitled "Vitamin D", you cannot only hear the experience of over forty years as a professional performer, you hear the depth and warmth of true musicianship reborn in each track. His music reminds you of what it was intended to be for the listener… an experience. Though his history is varied, it has served him well with roots that extend from a youth filled with traditional, classical and popular training.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his career began in 1965 as a 1st soprano with the Philadelphia All Boys Choir in conjunction with attending Settlement Music School; where he had vocal and piano training as well as concert flute. Within two years, he’d added the organ to his repertoire.
By the 70’s, he’d joined a vocal group, The Futures, and recorded the single “Breaking Up” on the AMJO record label out of Philadelphia. However, as he continued his training at Overbrook High School, he was asked to perform on a televised jazz program with his classmates, drummer Gerry Brown and bassist John Lee, from the school’s jazz band along with the show’s producer, Mr. Ira Tucker, Jr.
It was the coup de grâce, the show led to Vel becoming a studio session musician with Peacock Records, a division of ABC Records, and garnering a recording contract from Phila. International Records. The next single, “Love Is Here” was on Gamble Records. There was a whirlwind of activity between recording sessions and concert tours with the likes of Frankie Beverly and Maze, The O’Jays, Grover Washington, The Spinners, The Whispers, and The Supremes.
It didn’t take much time before The Futures’ band became known as The Life Group and began playing with The Delfonics, performing such hits as “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind”, “When You Get Right Down To It”, and “La, La, Means I Love You”. Vel had become an A-List musician continuing to perform on stage with such celebrities as Earth, Wind, & Fire, Buddy Miles, Parliament/Funkadelic, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks.
Fortunately, Vel was not one to be limited, so he co-wrote the Delfonics last hit, “I Told You So” with William Hart as well as The Life Group’s successful single, “Tell Me Why”. Vel continued to work throughout the industry as a member of The Life Group until the band’s last performance in Los Angeles during the early 80’s with Phyllis Hyman, Stevie Wonder, Mandrill and numerous other guest stars.
Though it was the end of The Life Group, Vel Lewis went on to work on even bigger and better things. He co-produced original music with Tom Borton and Ed Martinez for Chrysler/Plymouth Motors, Inc.’s Superbowl commercials featuring Tina Turner. Vel continued into the 90’s co-writing and co-producing on Borton’s three-album deal with Mesa/Bluemoon Records. As a songwriter with LA Post Music, he wrote even more music for television broadcasts.
Never a stranger to the road, Vel continued to perform at places like the Indianapolis Jazz Festival with Dan Siegal and Boney James, in addition to working on Dionne Warwick’s World Tour.
Vel's new release "Vitamin D" is meant to make you get up and move to the funky rhythms within the song. Don't try to hold back... this is what "Groove Jazz" is all about!