Composer and keyboardist Weldon Irvine was born October 27, 1943 in Hampton, Virginia. He moved to New York City in 1965 and became involved in the city’s diverse music scene. Throughout his career he would be involved with jazz-funk, jazz, hip-hop, funk, rhythm and blues, and gospel music scenes. In the late 1960s, he was the bandleader and organist for jazz singer Nina Simone, and wrote the lyrics to one of her best known songs “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”. The song has been called one of the “official” anthems of the civil rights movement.
Active during the 1970’s, Irvine’s pioneering style of jazz was re-evaluated in the 1990s, with members of communities beyond the jazz scene coming to appreciate his work. His album Time Capsule is now considered a classic by members of the rare groove scene, and songs such as “Sister Sanctified” from his album Liberated Brother have been covered by the likes of Stanley Turrentine, Breakestra, and Maceo Parker. Extending beyond just jazz, “I Love You”, included on his album Sinbad, is considered one of the defining songs of the new soul movement, and is widely enjoyed by listeners of all kinds of African-American music. To this day, Irvine is considered a musician representative of jazz, soul, and rare groove.
As Stanley Turrentine’s cover of “Sister Sanctified” was sampled on Boogie Down productions’ “My Philosophy”, Irvine has also greatly influenced American Hip-Hop, with Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, a devotee and student of Irvine, sampling “We Gettin’ Down” on A Tribe Called Quest’s breakout hit “Award Tour”, and Madlib (under the Monk Hughes & Outer Realm moniker) releasing projects such as A Tribute To Brother Weldon, and Suite For Weldon(under the Yesterdays New Quintet moniker).
In the club scene, Theo Parrish sampled Irvine’s signature song “I Love You” on “Black Music (I Love You)”, showing that the music of Irvine has reached people across genres and generations.
Released in 1969, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” is one of Irvine’s essential works. While working as jazz singer Nina Simone’s bandleader, Irvine wrote the lyrics to what would become one of the defining songs of the civil rights movement. The song would eventually be covered by the likes of Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway, leading to high praise for Irvine’s lyrics. The song was also featured in the climax of Summer Of Soul(2021), a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, released during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, bringing the song further prominence as a cross-generational song representing Black self-determination. As a company that has espoused the appeal of African-American music for almost half a century, the song holds special value P-VINE, and the lyrics of the song are included as part of the copyrights acquired.
To further highlight the genre and generation bridging music of Weldon Irvine, P-VINE, Inc. will now manage all music formerly owned by the Irvine estate, including unreleased songs, and accompanying artwork, and will be responsible for the productions of records and CDs, as well as related apparel. P-VINE plan on beginning with reissues from Irvine’s catalogue.