The O'Jays, Terisa Griffin & the Whispers

Star Plaza Theater, Merrilville, IN

The O'Jays

The O'Jays

Story & photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010

For the past 30-plus years, Rock n Roll Hall of Famers, the O'Jays, have been headlining at the Star Plaza Theater in Merrilville each Thanksgiving weekend. This listener, having followed this legendary R&B group since his college days in the '60s in Ohio, has attended the majority of these concerts and they were at perhaps their absolute best on November 26th before a very large and enthusiastic crowd. They were accompanied by The Whispers, another iconic R&B group and the dynamic and sassy Chicago vocalist Terisa Griffin .

Ms. Griffin wasn't an announced performer, but by the time she completed her 30 plus minute set, a buzz was in the air responding to her spectacular performance. Terisa is more than just a singer. She's your consummate entertainer and captivates the attention of the audience as soon as she hits the stage.

Her act included a sparkling rendition of Dinah Washington's "This Bitter Earth," as she changed wigs mimicking Etta James and Dinah to the pleasure of a crowd that for the most part was unaware of this eclectic vocalist. She concluded her set with what has become her signature song, Prince's "Purple Rain." Guitarist Glen Lowe and keyboardist Delby Littlejohn each were exceptional with extended solos on this classic Prince number. She left the stage to a rousing and standing ovation.

The Whispers, led by twin brother Walter and Scotty Scott have performed together since the 60s and continue thrilling audiences with their vocal harmony and choreography. They are as smooth as ever and have accompanied the O'Jays on this Thanksgiving gig for many of those 30-plus years.

On this occasion, they gave the audience a taste of most of their hits including "Olivia," "Butta," "Beat Goes On," "It's a Love Thing," "In The Mood," "Say Yes," "Rock Steady," "Love Thang," plus a couple of gospel numbers. They entertained non-stop, even though long-time member Nicholas Caldwell had to perform perched on a stool nursing an injured leg. This didn't stop Nick from jamming with the fellows as he was "rockin' and rollin' from his seated position. It was quite a sight to see.

This writer's all time favorite R&B group, The O'Jays were the main attraction and did not disappoint. Their performance was one of the "tightest" ever witnessed by this observer and that spans a period of about forty years. Although they have had several "third" member changes, Walter Williams and Eddie Levert remain from the original group, and their sound at the Star Plaza was as pristine as the first time this listener saw them during his college days back in 1966 in Akron, Ohio.

They wasted little time getting everyone in the mood as the group opened with one of their all time biggest hits, "Survival." They sang all-time favorites, danced and even took time to celebrate the Holiday season with a few Christmas numbers. This guys were on point all night long as they took us on a journey with "Back Stabbers," "I Love Music," "Stairway To Heaven," "I Love Music," "Let Me Make Love To You," "Used to Be My Girl," "Money, Money, Money." and of course their all-time classic - "Back Stabbers."

For ninty-minutes these Canton, Ohio natives were in a "zone" and at their best. They never "cheat" their audience and work on stage as if it's their last performance.No wonder they have been able to sustain this act and their loyal fan baseĀ for over forty years. They keep it fresh and fans continue to return year after year expecting and getting the best that the "Mighty" O'Jays have to dish out.

The entire night of music was one of the best concerts seen by this observer in years. Keep up the good work, Terisa, Whispers and O'Jays and let's hope next year show will be just as exciting.

Walter Williams, Eric Grant, Eddie Levert

Eric Grant

Walter Williams

Eddie Levert

John Valentino (Whispers)

Jimmy Walker

Terisa Griffin

Glen Lowe

The Whispers

Scotty Scott

Leaveil Degree

Walter Scott, Leaveil Degree, Nick Caldwell, Scotty Scott

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