The Undisputed Truth was a psychedelic soul/R&B/funk Motown group that became famous during the early 1970s. Formed in 1970 by famed record producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield (May 12, 1940 - September 16, 2008), the original members consisted of lead singer Joe "Pep" Harris along with Billie Rae Calvin (d. June 23, 2007, age 58) and Brenda Joyce Evans who both provided backing and occasional lead vocals. Evans and Calvin left the group in 1973, and Harris was joined by Tyrone "Lil Ty" Barkley (d. February 14, 2017, age 70), Tyrone "Big Ty" Douglas, Virginia "Vee" McDonald, and Calvin "Dhaak" Stephenson. Douglas and McDonald left in 1975, and The Undisputed Truth had many personnel changes thereafter, with original lead singer Harris remaining with the group throughout. A key figure in the creation of the Motown Sound, Whitfield also spearheaded the then-new psychedelic soul trend, co-writing and producing such classics in this genre as The Temptations' "Cloud Nine" (1968) and "Psychedelic Shack" (1969). In keeping with the group's funky psychedelic soul image, The Undisputed Truth became known for its members' unusual costumes, sci-fi makeup, and oversized white Afros.
The Undisputed Truth debuted in 1971 on both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts with the funky and upbeat "Save My Love For A Rainy Day." Later that year, the group had its biggest hit with the ominous Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong penned "Smiling Faces Sometimes" (1971), a cautionary ballad about backstabbers which made the Top 5 on both charts. The Undisputed Truth also had a minor hit in 1972 with the original version of "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" which topped the charts later that year for The Temptations. Other hits through the mid 1970s included "You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth" (1971), "What It Is" (1972), "Law Of The Land" (1973), and "Help Yourself" (1974). By the late 1970s, The Undisputed Truth had branched out to disco and had hits on both charts with "You + Me = Love" (1977) and "Let's Go Down To The Disco" (1977).
The Undisputed Truth had disbanded by the early 1980s, with several revivals over the years since then. The group's most recent regrouping took place in January 2019 with original members Joe Harris and Brenda Evans and newer members Dazee Luv and Jaki G, and they released an album that year titled "Truth Gon' Set You Free." The Undisputed Truth was inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 2015.
- The Guardian remembers Motown producer and songwriter Norman Whitfield.
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The Undisputed Truth
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