Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) is an American band that has spanned the musical genres of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin and African. They are one of the most successful bands of all time. Rolling Stone Magazine described them as “innovative, precise yet sensual, calculated yet galvanizing” and declared that the band “changed the sound of black pop”.
The band was founded in Chicago by Maurice White in 1970, having grown out of a previous band known as The Salty Peppers. Other members have included Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Al McKay and Andrew Woolfolk. The band has received 20 Grammy nominations; they won six as a group and two of its members, Maurice White and Bailey, won separate individual awards. Earth, Wind & Fire have 12 American Music Awards nominations and four awards. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and have sold over 100 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time. Five members of Earth, Wind & Fire were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame: Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Larry Dunn and Al McKay. The music industry and fans have bestowed Lifetime Achievement honors from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award – 2002), NAACP (Hall of Fame – 1994) and the BET Awards (Lifetime Achievement Award – 2002).
Earth, Wind & Fire is known for the dynamic sound of their horn section, their energetic and elaborate stage shows, and the interplay between the contrasting vocals of Philip Bailey’s falsetto and Maurice White’s tenor. The kalimba (African thumb piano) is played on all of the band’s albums. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the band had many hits, including “Shining Star”, “That’s the Way of the World”, “Devotion”, “Reasons”, “Sing a Song”, “Can’t Hide Love”, “Getaway”, “Fantasy”, “Love’s Holiday”, “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “After the Love Has Gone”, and “Let’s Groove”. Two Earth, Wind & Fire classic songs have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: “That’s the Way of the World” (2004) and “Shining Star” (2007).
The band is also known as having been the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden and to receive the MSG Gold Ticket Award. President Barack Obama invited Earth, Wind & Fire to perform at the White House for the first social event of the new administration.