*The eighties are often times mentioned as the favorite decade for black music for many of our readers, and who can blame them? Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and DeBarge were tops on the charts.

But there may be a group that may have slipped from the memory of some you all out there. We’re talking about the group Champaign with Pauli Carman singing lead vocals.

“‘How About Us’ and ‘Baby We Can Try Again’, and all the wonderful love songs that we had out,” said Pauli when asked of his musical pedigree.

He tells EURweb’s Lee Bailey that he and Champaign have never truly gone away. Like many of our former favorite acts from the past, Champaign is still getting their hustle on for the love of the music.

“Right now we are being billed as Pauli Carman and Champaign as far as the group,” said Carman when asked of the group’s current composition. “I sang all of the leads in the group, so it was sort of as if the flavor of the lead vocalist stuck with me. So I continued on as Champaign singing all of the beautiful love songs that we had.”

One of the things that sticks out the most in our memory is they were an interracial R&B group. Though things were starting to change in the early 80s, that was still enough to raise a few eyebrows and it sticks out in our memory as well. Besides Carman, Champaign was comprised of Rena Jones on vocals; Michael Day and Dana Walden on keyboards; Howard Reeder on guitar; Michael Reed on bass; and Rocky Maffitt on percussion/drums. Today the composition has change just a bit.

“I carry a couple females that do the lead vocals with me,” he explained. “Champaign was known for that rich, vocal quality in the same vein as the Manhattans, Atlantic Starr and groups such as those. Groups that had the big, lush background sound. So when we travel live I try to reinvent that whole, rich sound. The original girl, Rena Jones-Day, she is doing well, she has promised she would make appearances from time to time.”

With the advent of new media, Pauli Carman has found a way to remain active in music. He incorporates modern technology to promote that back-in-the-day sound, as well as connect with modern artists.

“The Pauli Carman Show is actually a podcast that doing via the website www.paulicarmanchampaign.com,” said Carman. “We’re going to be doing interviews with new, up and coming artists as well as artists who have been in the music industry for quite a long time. We’re going to be traveling around the country, and hopefully overseas as well to find out just what’s happening out there in the world of music with some of the mainstays such as Blue Magic, and the Ultimate Persuaders, groups like that. We’re going to be traveling through New York to interview artists that are there. Along the way we have been taking submissions through Youtube and the website. Young artists have been signing up with their videos. It’s sort of like our own traveling ‘American Idol.’ We do want to give the listening public something to see as well as something to hear. We’re going to draw that attention to the website and try to do 3 shows a month starting in October.”

Though Champaign has solidified a significant legacy for themselves with prior successes, that hasn’t sapped their love for making music.

“We have a new album out now called ‘Get Back to Live’ … we launched it with a single by the same name. We take our two biggest hits, ‘Baby Can We Try Again’ and ‘How About Us’ and we combine them together as sort of a medley. We’re real happy with that. The whole thing is getting back to love music and the type of music that we were doing back in the ’80s. Music certainly has changed a great deal over the past few years. We just want to get back to good music. You know the really soulful sound.”

Included on the new CD is a remake of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me” which is dedicated to the victims of the gulf oil spill.

“That was a work of love. We did that for the oil spill in the gulf. All of the proceeds from that will go to the Gulf Oil Spill Foundation down in New Orleans and will go towards the clean up of the oil.”

The world can always use another group of people who are willing to give something to the welfare of their fellow man, and the world can use as much soul music as it can get, as well. Pauli Carman and Champaign feel as though they are bringing us a fair amount of both.

To hear some of their old stuff, and a some of the new, you can log onto www.paulicarmanchampaign.com and give Champaign a listen for old times sake.


Listen to Pauli Carman’s “Mercy, Mercy Me”: