Dr. Otis Williams
Dr. Otis Williams is a founding member of the legendary musical group The Temptations. The sole surviving member of the original Temptations, he will turn 80 on October 30, 2021. Photography by Scott Leon/Courtesy of Ume

The Temptations delivered Motown’s first-ever GRAMMY® at the 11th Annual Grammy® Awards ceremony in 1969 for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance by a Duo or Group, Vocal or Instrumental for the song, “Cloud Nine.” Other blockbuster hits by this iconic group include “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “Get Ready.” This holiday season, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “Silent Night” Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” along with other songs from their 1970 album The Temptations Christmas Card will be played time and time again.

The group has sold millions of albums, won five Grammy® Awards, and have been inducted into the Grammy®, Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues Music, and Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

On Monday, November 1, 2021, City College Center for the Arts (CCCA) will host a special live, virtual event in celebration of the 60-year history of the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy® Award-Winning Otis Williams and The Temptations. Dr. Williams is a founding member of the legendary musical group and the sole surviving member of the original Temptations.

The virtual event will be in the form of a special conversation between Dr. Williams and distinguished musician, composer, and entrepreneur K. Sparks, with Dr. Williams sharing memories on the “Evolution of The Temptations” Music, 1961 – 2021.” The public can obtain free tickets to watch the historic broadcast taking place at CCCA, a performing arts center located in the heart of Harlem’s City College of New York. Gregory Shanck is the director of CCCA and helps steer the organization’s programming and events which brings world-class entertainment to Harlem.

“The event is wonderful,” said Dr. Williams. “I get to speak with the people there, and this is a great honor being bestowed up The Temptations. It is also a great honor to be coming to a place so well known for Black folks and where my good friend President Barack Obama, along with Ella Fitzgerald, Alicia Keys, and other notables have been. Gregory Shanck is happy we are coming there, and we are happy to be going there.”

The special conversation between the timeless wonder and K. Sparks is also being held in honor of Dr. Williams’ 80th birthday on October 30.

“Well, first and foremost, I thank God for letting me get to be 79 to turn 80 because when I stop and think about it, and I don’t mean to put it on the dark side, but I’m the only Temptation that has made it to this milestone of turning 80,” said the legendary artist. “I lost my wonderful friends David, Paul, Melvin, and Eddie and here I am still carrying the banner those brothers helped me to create. It’s an honor to still do it, do it on such a high level, and keep the standard of the Temptations hopefully up to where our fans have come to always want to see.”

Publicity photo of the “Classic 5” lineup of American band The Temptations in 1964. Clockwise from top: David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams. Photo by Kriegsmann

Motown auditioned and signed the original Temptations: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and David Ruffin in May of 1961. They released numerous Gold, Platinum and Multi-platinum hits, have 16 #1 R&B Chart albums, 44 Top 10 R&B chart hits, and four Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles. The Temptations also have a star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame,” and in June of 2019, Dr. Williams, and members of the Temptations’ legendary, classic five line-up were inducted into the Apollo Theater’s “Walk of Fame.” This year marks the 60th Anniversary celebration of The Temptations, who were among the first African American musical artists to crossover into mainstream America and appear on popular, national mainstream television programs, such as The Ed Sullivan Show.

“Having such a wonderful history of having all those hit records, being at Motown being with Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy, and now having a brand new single out “Is It Gonna Be Yes Or No,” written by Smokey Robinson, who is also performing with us on it. The wonderfulness seems like it never stops.”

The Temptations’ 60th Anniversary campaign launched this summer and will run through June 2022. The year-long campaign includes a 50-city concert tour, and the Imperial Theatre re-opening of the Broadway musical, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” based on Dr. Williams’s personal journey.

A songwriter and producer, Dr. Williams is well-known for his fortitude, for fueling the Temptations’ enormous and ever-increasing popularity, and for inspiring a new generation of musical artists. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Stillman College.

“Our fans have been there and have always been loyal,” said Dr. Williams. “I like to give them credit. The Temptations would be nothing without our fans.”

Audience members can join the free, virtual event by registering for tickets at the CCCA website, citycollegecenterforthearts. org

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