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Vel Lewis - Biography
Vel Lewis can be found listed on many popular recordings and well-known TV shows The Sopranos, Mad About You, Friends, and Wife Swap USA, all of which feature music he composed. His latest release, “Colors of Soul” is a highly charged Jazz and Soul EP that is superbly produced by Vel, combined with the Midas touch of chart-topping producer Greg Manning who added his brand of magic to the mixes. Kevin Chokan on guitars, keeping it in the pocket and soulful. Master percussionist Lenny Castro brings his signature sound to the project. “Colors of Soul” is a mixture of rhythmic songs for the Groove Jazz listener. His 2014 single, “Song For My Love” from his latest EP “Colors Of Soul”, is the follow up from his 2013 Smooth Jazz Adult Contemporary single “Maybe So”, which continues to chart and solidified his position as a professional jazz/soul/funk musician. “Song For My Love” landed a position on Groove Jazz Music.com’s “Top 100” list for 2014 with over 1,600 spins and 375,000 streams.
Vel is an accomplished singer, producer, arranger, keyboardist, and Hammond Ò organist, who composes his own music and also plays piano and drums.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his career began with the Philadelphia All Boys Choir under the direction of Dr. Carlton J. Lake, performing as a soloist at Expo ’67 in Montreal, Canada. He attended Settlement Music School for vocal training, piano, and concert flute lessons. Within two years, he added the organ to his repertoire, under private training by Mr. Milt Myers, and later with Dr. E. Woodley Kalehoff.
By the 70’s, he had joined a vocal group called The Futures, and recorded the single “Breaking Up” on the AMJO record label out of Philadelphia. Continuing training in the music programs of Overbrook High School, he was asked to perform on a televised PBS jazz program with his schoolmates, drummer Gerry Brown and bassist John Lee by the show’s producer, Mr. Ira Tucker, Jr.
This TV show led to Lewis becoming a studio session musician with Peacock Records (a division of ABC Records), and producer Ira Tucker, Sr., lead singer of The Dixie Hummingbirds. Vel recorded Hammond ® organ on albums with The Gospelaires of Ohio, The Sensational Nightingales, The Five Blind Boys, and on Paul Simon’s “Love Me Like A Rock”, and Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America”, both with The Dixie Hummingbirds, while garnering a recording contract with The Futures on Philadelphia International Records, a division of Columbia Records. The next single, “Love Is Here” by The Futures was on Gamble Records. There was a whirlwind of activity between recording sessions and concerts with Frankie Beverly and Maze, The O’Jays, Grover Washington, The Spinners, The Whispers, The Stylistics, and The Supremes, to name a few.
It didn’t take much time before The Futures’ band (known as The Life Group) began touring with The Delfonics, performing the hit songs “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, performing on the same stage with Earth, Wind, & Fire, Isaac Hayes, Parliament/Funkadelic, Al Green, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks.
Fortunately, Lewis was not one to be limited, as he co-wrote The Delfonics’ hit song, “I Told You So” with lead singer William Hart, and co-wrote The Life Group’s successful single, “Tell Me Why”. Vel continued performing around the world as a member of The Life Group until the band’s last performance in Los Angeles with Phyllis Hyman, Stevie Wonder, Mandrill and numerous other guest stars.
Lewis then went on to work on even bigger and better things. He co-produced original music with Tom Borton and former RCA Executive Ed Martinez for Chrysler/Plymouth Motors’ Super Bowl XXIV 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.
Never a stranger to the road, Lewis performed with Tom Borton at the Indianapolis Jazz Festival with Dan Siegel and Boney James. Upon returning home from tour, Vel put his expertise in corporate business finance to work, assisting Tom Borton with his newly formed production music library, Los Angeles Post Music, and assisting Mr. Billy Davis, Jr. with the formation of a Christian non-profit corporation called “Soldiers For The Second Coming” – a praise and worship ministry founded by Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo, holding the positions of Music Director, Corporate Secretary, and Chief Financial Officer. Since Tom Borton’s passing in 2011, Vel works as Consultant for Los Angeles Post Music (www.lapostmusic.com) c/o the Thomas William Borton Estate managing the ongoing operations of the business while soliciting interested parties about acquisition of the production music library.
In 2002, Ms. Dionne Warwick contacted Vel to perform on her World Tour, which he did for three years before releasing his solo debut CD/DVD project, “Shady Grady – All Wound Up”.
A compilation CD released from Germany in 2007 called “Keepin’ It Mellow” contained a song from Vel’s “Shady Grady – All Wound Up” CD entitled “Let It Ride”, which became the number #1 Most Played Single in the U.K.
Vel continues to deliver the kind of sultry, groove-laced music that catches the ears of his audience and soothes their hearts. From the moment the first note is heard and you feel the pulse of the rhythm, the ride begins – this is the perfect combination for the true music lover. For those around the world who have been requesting more Vel Lewis Music, this is for you… “Colors Of Soul” … ear candy for the heart!