It’s a Florence LaRue Celebration as we honor the “Delightful Diva’s” birthday, Feb. 4 at Forever 5th Dimension. I know I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, Florence is a breathtaking force of nature–a whirlwind of all things energetic, compassionate, witty, downright sassy, sensitive & strong. Florence continues to mesmerize as today’s sole original member of The 5th Dimension, leading the current quintet with a busy & building touring schedule for ’17 through greatest hits & lots of tasty surprises. It’s hard to believe that the age-proof, eternal glamour girl has been part of The 5th for 50 years! She initially got into “the biz” with aspirations of a career in acting. It was at The Miss Bronze California pageant that Florence ran on stage with suitcase in hand emoting “April in Paris” aka “Avril en Paris” in perfect French. Upon seeing the poignant performance, judge Eartha Kitt purred, “We have our girl!” Florence, who won the Grand Talent Prize was photographed by none other than LaMonte McLemore, who also captured the year’s previous winner, Marilyn McCoo. And so history began, with Florence being invited by “Mac” to sing with “The Versatiles” along with himself, McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr. & Ron Townson. Their transition into The 5th Dimension started an uplifting ride that is heralded in uniting diverse audiences through their message of “harmony and understanding.” 6 Grammy awards plus countless Gold & Platinum records for classic songs like “Up-Up & Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” and “One Less Bell to Answer” are an indelible part of Florence and The 5th Dimension’s place in music history.
A few seasons ago, backstage at the Broadway show “After Midnight” starring Vanessa Williams, I noticed many young entertainers in the Cotton Club-inspired review–singers & dancers–flocking to Florence to pay homage and extend their gratitude for the example she’s so masterfully set. When I asked Florence about such an appreciative reaction that night as well as continuously from fans the world over, she gently smiled, “I’m always amazed, it’s humbling…The 5th Dimension and I were just the messengers.” A woman of God who appears in testimony to the power of grace on such shows as TBN’s PRAISE, Florence’s thoughtful response makes sense. Mega Producer Bones Howe muses, “Florence was always so…dancing, moving…full of life!” Founding member, McLemore who remained alongside LaRue for 41 years of 5th adventures reminds us in his popular memoir, FROM HOBO FLATS TO THE 5th DIMENSION, “Many might not know that Florence has an ingenious ear in knowing not only her part, but everyone’s,” an attribute that comes in handy in her keeping today’s sound of The 5th Dimension–along with members Patrice Morris, Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker and Floyd Smith–authentic as well as fresh.
Florence recently told REWOUND RADIO she was never fully satisfied with her signature solo recordings that have become legacy songs. Jimmy Webb’s “This is Your Life ” and Laura Nyro’s “He’s a Runner” are just some “Florence tunes” she surprisingly thinks were quote, probably arranged in too high a key. “As an alto, I prefer my later recording of ‘I Knew You When’ that the producer encouraged me to sing full-out,” she informed. Of course fans think each unique “Florence solo” is a hallmark of excellence including the Gospel-tinged “All Kinds of People,” the bittersweet “Salty Tears,” the effervescent “Magic in My Life,” the sensual “Love Hangover” (another personal LaRue fave), not to mention her sumptuous version of “Stormy Weather” in concert today during The 5th Dimension’s Rain Medley.
Whether touring with “The 5th,” in her solo autobiographical show, “Just as I Am,” giving inspiring speeches or volunteering for the homeless, our “Delightful Diva” (a moniker she gets a kick out of!) has no intention of slowing down, just re-invigorating herself by “stopping to smell the roses more” as she told her Facebook fans and friends. Some literary projects are also on the horizon. Thus, Florence LaRue continues to please her millions of fans with more magic, more picnics, more balloons, more sunshine. She beams onstage, “You’ve given The 5th Dimension Family so much love…and that’s why we give you back all the hits from our hearts to yours.” Let’s send Florence more love and blessed wishes on the occasion of her birthday. — Robert-Allan Arno
The Best of Florence—Her Iconic Solos, 2 by 2
(with “love notes” from the fans):
Florence’s iconic ballad “This Is Your Life” written by Jimmy Webb from PORTRAIT, and the poignant “He’s a Runner” written by Laura Nyro from the LOVE’S LINES album stylistically and thematically go hand-in-hand.
—“This Is Your Life” from “Portrait”—listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGXhzYP9aR4
—“He’s a Runner” from “Love’s Lines, Angles & Rhymes”—listen at: https://youtu.be/kb8XzRFBZ3M
The fans say about “This is Your Life” …
Brian Medoro Gorgeous song where Florence gets to show off her vocal power early on. We all know now how she can burn down the house.
Douglas C. Charles One of my favorites.
Blake Morant …great orchestration, a beautiful vocal arrangement and meaningful lyrics. Florence’s smoky version of “This Is Your Life” occupies a hallowed place on my playlists.
Dale Kocik Still a 5th and Florence favorite of mine. Her spot on vocal, the instrumentation and the back up vocals are perfect.
Renee T Armstead LOVE this. It brings back wonderful memories of watching her sing this in concert in the 70’s when “Portrait” came out!
Joe Peltonovich It seems like every song you post is one of my favorites! This is no exception. Florence does such a nice job on this one. She is just so cool!
Daniel Clark Awesome song. There should be an album of Florence singing these solos.
Mike Villeneuve To me there is no song that is not made better by Florence’s voice.
Estes John I Love this so much, Florence really shows off her chops on this. Perfect song and arrangement for the ever “Jazz-esque,” Florence!
The fans say about “He’s a Runner”…
Alain Baptiste My wife and I feel both “This Is Your Life” and “He’s A Runner” define grace and we think Ms.Florence LaRue is an architect of this state, she is a classic dancer with her notes and emotions. Mariette and Alain Baptiste
Blake Morant “He’s a Runner” has wonderful appeal, which I appreciated much later when I matured musically.
Susie Paige Birthday Blessings, Florence❣ My two favorites together are “This is Life” & “He’s a Runner”!
Michael John Kitner Love both “Life” and “Runner”–was thrilled to tell her
At the Miller outdoor theater in Houston Texas!
For a “magical hangover,” we couple the addictive “Magic in my Life” which no one ever seems to get enough of, from “Earthbound,” with the get-down groove of “Love Hangover.” For this, Florence recorded the lead in a dimly lit studio for “atmosphere”…but the rest of “the sweetest hangover story”—plug alert!—is told in LaMonte McLemore’s hit memoir “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” now in its 2nd edition, at Amazon.
—“Magic In My Life” from “Earthbound”—listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41wGADIjMoE
—“Love Hangover”—listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIGN0ZHgKro
The fans say about “Magic in My Life”…
Estes John Dear Florence, wishing You A Blessed Birthday filled with Happiness & all the Joy in the World! MAGIC IN MY LIFE is one of my all-time favorite songs. I listen to it all the time. You sing it so beautifully with such perfection. It’s total Pitch Perfect!
Mike Villeneuve “Magic in my Life” – BRILLIANT, I still play it at least once a week. I have a great Florence playlist…all of those tunes she led sound as timeless now as in the late 60s and 70s.
Robert Darnell Hollinsed I’m getting goose bumps thinking about these songs…”Magic in My Life”…I better pull out some albums, hahaha!!
The fans say about “Love Hangover”…
Brian Medoro I had the good fortune to see the group perform “Love Hangover” live twice in concert. First in Rochester in ’76 and then at Valley Forge in PA. That mysterious opening just grabs you…then they transition to layers of: “Over…Over….Oveeerrr!!” Then the band just hit it hard! It turned into the hardest beat dance song that would level any artist today attempting to cross over into that genre. The audience was yelling, whistling and cheering until the song’s end. It was very exciting to see and hear The 5th Dimension’s new flashy song. I have never forgotten it.
Tony Sbriglia Florence did a fantastic vocal on ” Love Hangover”!
Blake Morant Ah, I so appreciate you highlighting “Love Hangover” during this celebration of the indefatigable Florence LaRue!
“All Kinds of People” & “Salty Tears”: We sum up our featured tunes for our “Florence celebration” with 2 poignant songs of compassion…and passion. “All Kinds of People” written by Bacharach/David is not only Gospel-tinged but just as deeply relevant today. About this striking performance, Florence recently commented on the “Anything Goes” radio show and humbly so: “I forgot how beautiful the background singing was on this one!” Next is “Salty Tears”…and this is the un-vaulted alternative take & extended version that Bones Howe was so kind in providing (a few years ago) for this special FOREVER 5th video.
— “All Kinds of People” from “Individually & Collectively”—listen at: https://youtu.be/uwCjsGo32fM
—“Salty Tears” from “Soul & Inspiration,” an exclusive FOREVER 5th DIMENSION tribute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bEsmKHEhBM
The fans say about “All Kinds of People”…
Michael John Kitner I love this one !!!
Blake Morant Well, now we have a tune that displays Florence’s incredible range. No doubt, the lyrics remain so salient today. A Bacharach treasure.
More Fan Messages for Florence’s Special Day…
Paulette Morant Happy Birthday and many blessings in the year ahead, Ms. Florence LaRue! In this year of the Golden Anniversary of Up Up and Away, I thank you, as an artist and a fellow teacher, for putting magic in our lives.
Jim Handakas Happy Birthday, Florence! Thank you for the music. It has colored my life and continues to bring me joy. Your gift– my blessing.
Paul Corley Have a happy, happy birthday, Florence! You have given so much joy to the world through your talent and grace.
Elston Harry (of The Friends of Distinction) Have a blessed birthday Florence.
Andy Gard Hope you have a wonderful birthday and a magnificent year ahead, Florence!
Deniserose Torres Warm wishes for a lovely Birthday Florence.
Douglas C. Charles Florence please advise: How does one grow lovelier every year? Wishing you the best birthday ever and many blessings in the year ahead. We Aquarians are the BEST! Love you!
David Pendleton Happy Birthday, Florence!
Martha E. Vink Happy Birthday, Florence! Thank you for blessing us with your rich and lovely voice for all these years. May God continue to bless you!
Loretta Sorensen Have a lovely day!
Carlene Schultz Owen Wishing you well on the anniversary of your birth.
Bob Radil Happy Birthday from your friends at REWOUND RADIO…I just played “Magic In My Life” on Friday’s show. It really is a good song. A gem.
Visit Florence at http://www.florencelarue.com/
Visit The 5th Dimension feat. Florence LaRue at http://5thdimensionlive.com/
(copyright ’14-17, The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.)