Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Fred Cash and Sam Gooden of The Impressions are in Chicago this weekend to perform with Aretha Franklin at an annual benefit concert at the Arie Crown Theater.
The two Chattanoogans will join fellow Impressions member Reginald Torian for the show. Torian was a member back in the '70s and rejoined the group a few years ago.
The Impressions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.
Cash said the group continues to be busy performing and recording.
"We just got back from Madrid, Spain," he said. "We were over there five days and did one show. They invited us back for six shows next year. It was so great seeing 17-, 18-year-old kids singing along to our songs. They knew our records. That was something."
Cash said the group performed with Franklin several years ago in Detroit, and they were looking forward to joining her onstage again.
The singers are also finishing up work on four new songs they've recorded. One of them is a song written by the late Curtis Mayfield, who wrote many of the Impressions' biggest hits.
"Sam and I were in Atlanta when Curtis was sick, and he gave me a tape of a song called 'Homeless.' I was here in my office cleaning up and I found a whole bag of tapes, and guess which one fell out. It's sounds just like the day he gave it to me."
Cash said he and Gooden felt so strongly about the new material, they managed to talk Johnny Pate into coming out of retirement to do the arrangements.
"He did all of our hits -- "People Get Ready," "Keep on Pushing," "It's All Right."
The recordings were done in New York with a full band and strings, Cash said. It should be ready for release in the fall.
"If it's not, we'll hold it for next year," Cash said.
The Impressions will head to London in mid-July, and on July 20 they will help celebrate what would have been Mayfield's 70th birthday at the Lincoln Center in New York.
They are also working on some songs for a movie project.
Incidentally, their album "Anthology 1961-1977" is at No. 179 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time." "People Get Ready" made the Top 10 Best Songs of All Time as chosen by a panel of 20 songwriters and producers, including Sir Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson. It is No. 24 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
"People Get Ready" was released in 1965 and their last big hit was in 1976 with "Loving Power," but the last decade has been a near whirlwind for Cash and Gooden. In 2001, Eric Clapton flew them to England to record with him. A video history of the group called "Movin' On Up" was released in 2008, and they released their first Christmas album two years ago.
* Random pet peeve: When someone starts a sentence with "I'm known for ...," as in "I'm known for my quirky sense of humor," I immediately stop listening.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.