It took quite a while for me to compile this Mix honoring one of the most influential DJ’s in radio’s history. Melvin’s Quiet Storm of Melodies is a dedication to Melvin Lindsey, the slow jam radio format pioneer. Lindsey, who was born and raised in Washington, DC, was the creator of the Quiet Storm show; a nightly presentation of R&B love songs. The format is now copied around the world. Ballads after sunset have become the staple of many FM radio stations across formats from rock to pop; so it’s hard to remember that there was a time when there was nothing special or consistent to listen to after dark. Then, in 1976, a young intern named Melvin Lindsey got the chance to host a show for WHUR FM, Howard University’s radio station in Washington, DC. Lindsey slowed things down for the night and listeners have been responding to that format ever since.
Melvin Lindsey’s love of slow tempo music featured the best and in many cases some of the most unknown artists in R&B. The term slow jam was coined describing the sound.
Lindsey broadcasted in Washington for nearly 15 years, first with the Quiet Storm on WHUR, then with Melvin’s Melodies on WKYS. He was the star of the night on KYS; while radio and T.V. personality Donnie Simpson hosted the morning show. What a time for radio!
There is still a beautiful residue of Lindsey’s style lingering in Washington, but like so much of what made radio great, it too is fading. To compile songs that reflect Lindsey’s taste was a challenge that I tried to overcome by focusing on his favorite groups like Heatwave, Con Funk Shun and Enchantment; as well his favorite singers like Patti LaBelle.
None of these songs were huge hits on Billboard; for instance, the group Heatwave is most known for Boogie Nights, not Star of the Story. Deniece Williams got her Grammy nominations for Let’s Hear it for the Boy, not for You’re All that Matters. These artists existed before the MTV or BET countdowns and probably wouldn’t have been included if they had. Their music was played because of the emotion it conveyed, the classic sound it delivered and because a DJ took the time to listen to the whole album. A lot of this music has been forgotten except for the occasional sample used by a Kanye West or 9th Wonder, it’s a shame really. These love songs expressed a vulnerability and compassion lost in current slow jams. Today’s artists would benefit from a session of the Quiet Storm in the early 80’s or Lindsey’s later show, Melivin’s Melodies. Maybe then they would understand that being hopelessly in love is OK, and so wonderful that those emotions deserve to be captured in a nice slow song. Melvin got that, and spent most of his life conveying feelings of love over DC’s airwaves.
I would like to think many of these songs were recorded because of Melvin, because artists found they had a consistent place to share this kind of music. Just imagine what could happen in today’s musical landscape if artists could find stations dedicated to playing love songs as easily as they do stations hungry for divisive and misogynistic lyrics; imagine how that could change the complexion of our society.
This dedication compilation begins and ends with the theme songs from Lindsey’s two slow jam radio shows, just like the title of this Mix. Please enjoy Melvin’s Quiet Storm of Melodies.