Last week, Southern Laced had a chance to talk to Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & the Gang. In 2019, the Grammy Award-winning legendary group celebrated 50 years in the game. It was an honor for us to have a chance to personally congratulate Kool on this great accomplishment as well as their classic song “Celebration” turning 40 this year! Over the years, “Celebration” has remained an international anthem. It has brought millions together from all corners of the world.
Click HERE or on the link above to listen to our FULL exclusive interview with Kool, which was hosted by our very own Sadé Kelly. Below you’ll find excerpts of our interview.
Sadé: Tell us about how “Celebration” came about.
Kool: When we came up with “Celebration”, it was after a celebration. We had just won two American Music Awards and we had just added a lead singer (James “J.T.” Taylor) to the group. Our first album with a new lead singer was “Ladies Night”. At the end of the song, it has a part that says, “This is your night tonight. Come on let’s all celebrate.” And, I said, “That can be another song.” We were celebrating and it was our celebration.
Sadé: While you were creating “Celebration”, did it ever occur to you that this song would be such a huge hit?
Kool: No, we didn’t. We felt good about the song but we didn’t know it would become a huge hit like it has become. Like I said, it was after “Ladies Night”. It was our first song with a lead singer. Before that, we had other hits like “Hollywood Swinging”, “Jungle Boogie”, “Funky Stuff”, “Summer Madness” and “Open Sesame” but nothing like what “Celebration” became.
Sadé: You have fans of all ages. Young and old… How does it feel to know that people of all ages continue to love your music after all these years?
Kool: It’s a great feeling to be out in the market place and playing for 50 years. And over the years, we’ve gotten younger fans. A lot of these fans were probably listening to our music in their homes with their parents. Also, you can take “Summertime” by Will Smith from “Summer Madness.” And, you can take “Bad Boy” from Diddy (at that time Puffy). He came up with that hit and there have been so many others. So I think with the older fans educating our younger fans, it became a family affair.
Sadé: In addition to “Celebration” turning 40, there’s another reason to celebrate. Congratulations on your partnership with the France-based House of BERTHELU! Tell us about your new champagne.
Kool: I’ve been drinking champagne off and on over the years. We played Europe a lot, especially in France. So I came up with this idea of doing my own champagne.
We met with the Berthelu family and came up with the name of the champagne, Le Kool champagne. I felt like it had a French flavor to it and I would bring it to America at some point.
That’s how it all started. I wanted it to come to America as Le Kool.
Le Kool champagne can be purchased in New York, New Jersey, California, and Florida. It can also be found online at lekoolchampagne.com
Sadé: Do you have any upcoming tour dates?
Kool: We’ve got a busy year. We are doing 20 shows in Europe (Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, etc.). We’re doing the Rochester Jazz Festival, Saratoga Jazz Festival and various casinos in America. So we will be busy.
If you go to our website, follow us on koolandthegang.com for our tour dates.