The Five Stairsteps


The Five Stairsteps, known as "The First Family of Soul", were an rnb group from Chicago, Illinois made up five of Betty and Clarence Burke Sr.'s six children: Alohe, Jean, Clarence Jr., James, Dennis, and Kenneth (or "Keni") as well as, briefly, Cubie. They are best known for the 1970 song "O-o-h Child", a soul hit that was listed #392 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs. The group was dubbed "First Family of Soul" because of their successful five-year chart run; the moniker was later passed on to The Jackson 5. Their work continues to receive major airplay. Initially a teenage five-member association made up of the children of Betty and Clarence Burke, the brothers and sister vocal group took on the title "The Five Stairsteps" from Mrs. Burke, who thought her kids looked like stair steps when lined up according to their age. The association featured lead singer Clarence Jr., Alohe, James, Dennis, and 13-year-old Kenneth ("Keni"). Most of the members attended Harlan High School. Clarence Sr. was a detective for the Chicago Police Department. He backed the group on bass guitar, managed them, and co-wrote songs with Clarence Jr. and Gregory Fowler. After winning first prize in a talent contest at the Regal Theater, The Five Stairsteps received recording contract offers. A close neighbor and family friend was Fred Cash of The Impressions, who introduced the group to Curtis Mayfield. Signed to Mayfield's Windy City imprint, which was distributed by the Philadelp...

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