The Blackbyrds are jazz-funk group with thick R&B streaks running down their backs.
Originally assembled in 1973 by their mentor and guiding light of jazz trumpet Donald Byrd, the group quickly became a force to be reckoned with, receiving Grammy nominations and selling over 1 million copies of their 1975 smash hit ‘Walking in Rhythm’.
Though the band split in 1981, their legacy has lived on, becoming a source of inspiration for 1980’s British Jazz-Funk acts such as Light of the World and Hi-Tension.
More recently, they have made a significant impact on the hip-hop generation with Gang Starr, Da Lench Mobb, and Full Force sampling their music. In particular, their 1975 song “Rock Creek Park” from the City Life album has been sampled numerous times by groups such as De La Soul, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A, Massive Attack, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Nas and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five amongst many others.
After reforming in 2012, The Blackbyrds released their first new album in more than 30 years, titled “Gotta Fly”. The group now features original members Keith Killgo, Joe Hall, Orville Saunders, and Allan Barnes, and in tradition with their early mission, also features some new younger members including former students, continuing the mission that began with Donald Byrd over 40 years ago.
“We’re not done yet,” says Killgo. We have some more to say.”