They give your goose bumps the tingles.
Like a velvet kiss, the Platters' cascading harmonies caress the Congo Room crowd at the Sahara, the innocently sensual sounds of that doo-wop charmer, "Only You," overlapping to its familiar falsetto finale: "When you hold my hand / I understand / The magic that you do / You're my dream come true / My one and only ... Y-O-U-U-U-U-U-U."
Standing out among three brown-velour-suited male singers is the lady from Detroit, resplendent in a gold and red lamé jacket over black skirt, with an equally impressive name: Dr. Kathleen "Kristy Love" Brooks. After blending into the harmonic splendor of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Twilight Time," the Platters' finest dish launches a Mahalia-meets-Aretha solo on a gospel-dipped "Someone To Watch Over Me," then sings lead on an ecstatic "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" that ratchets up the audience to an on-its-feet fervor.
When she and the Platts aren't woppin' the doo with Cornell Gunter's Coasters and Beary Hobb's Drifters seven nights a week, the five-degreed, doctorate-holding, performing, educating Las Vegan with a heart of soul teaches voice at the Community College of Southern Nevada. She's also spearheading, with colleague Marleen Marino, an online school tool called Entertaining Education Inc., designed to boost student performance in multiple subjects by using music. They hope to deliver it to the Clark County School District by September.
But there's a full 24 hours in a day, so during her New York tenure, Brooksthe baby of a brood of 10 and a Platter since the '70salso wrote three musicals, recorded the solo CD Giving You Love, worked at a performing arts school and hosted Kristy's Positive Images on Manhattan cable.
It's been rumored that, occasionally, she even sleeps.
Doo-wop music still awakens the eternal romantic in us. At your show, one woman was vigorously swinging her shoulders to the rhythm and others were dancing. What's the magical appeal?
It's the romance of the music, the beauty, the lyric. "Twilight Time" is such a beautiful lyric: "Heavenly shades of night are falling / It's twilight time / Out of the mist your voice is calling / It's twilight time / When purple-colored curtains mark the end of day / I'll hear you, my dear, at twilight time." Think of the visual you get. It's poetry, singing poetry. Our job as entertainers is to touch people in such a way that it inspires them to bring about more love and creativity in their hearts. Some of the music today brings about more anger. Not all of it, now. Some rap songs have a very positive message. But some is also violent or too sexual to fulfill our spiritual needs. That's what music should do, fulfill our spiritual needs.
Are you concerned that the angrier music becomes, the more that simple romance will become outdated?
No, because that music is being recycled. You take Alicia Keys, who went to school with my son. He's a producer, and they were at performing arts school together. I've known Alicia since she was this high. We all lived in the performing arts building, Manhattan Plaza, on 42nd Street. I love what she has done to bring about an expansion in the music. Technically, she's a classically trained pianist, and she combines all the good things about classical music and good music, and still touches the kids with the R&B sound. "You don't know my name ...," that tune, that's a rerelease from the '70s. They changed the hook line. The people in the background are the Main Ingredient ("Everybody Plays the Fool"), that's their song. I know it's looping back. Trends always do. People like Alicia are going to expose better music. They have to get back to the singing and the music. It'll come.
You're the chief executive officer of Entertaining Education Inc. What's the theory behind it?
There's so much research to show that kids who study music do better in math and science, that kids will learn better and develop better and have a better love for education in general. We are fervently trying to bring in people to give us the startup money to make sure it all happens. We would like about 300 lessons in the bank to start with. We're going to expand to television, but we're going to start with the Internet base. We're pretty much getting there.
Performing seven nights a week; how do you do it?
It's doing something you love. The more you sing, the better you get. I'm better now, not only because I'm singing more often, but because I'm teaching. When a teacher studies other people's voices, it starts reiterating itself in her head. It's not grueling. Yes, seven nights a week, but people don't realize, you're not doing an eight-hour job. We do more or less a half-hour, and there's preparation time, and then the finale. Mentally, you have to be prepared. But you love it.
Does it ever become routine?
What doesn't become routine is the audience. We get different energy from different audiences, the way they respond to us. When you get that feedback, it's just a regeneration. Music is a universal thing, it's a healer. Music keeps you youthful.