If you’re still in the mood to celebrate love after Valentine’s Day, plan to get cozy with your honey for a night of love songs with The Stylistics 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at Tropicana Atlantic City.
The Stylistics will headline the Soul Jam Valentine’s Weekend show, which also features Bloodstone, the Manhattans and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes.
Airrion Love, a baritone with the Stylistics, spoke with A.C. Weekly to share his experiences singing with the group since its inception, more than 50 years ago.
“We have to work together to stay together,” says Love, a native of Philadelphia. “We spend more time with each other than we do with our own families. Like any other family, we have our arguments. But we work it out, have fun and joke with each other.
“We are still touring,” Love continues. “I attribute our longevity to luck, blessings and a couple of guardian angels watching over us. There is still an interest in our music, and we continue to put people in the seats.”
The Stylistics actively tour in the United Kingdom and Japan, though Love points out that touring has its good and bad points. “The positive is when we’re in a tropical location,” he laughs. “I’m on the beach all day, then do a show at night. The down side is Japan, where we do two shows a night,” he continues, noting the concerts typically last for an hour and 40 minutes each.
After those evenings, Love goes to bed around midnight, wakes up to eat breakfast, then goes back to bed until 3 p.m. He then prepares for the first show.
The strict regimen serves him well. He remains healthy and vocally strong, refusing distractions. “Friends I have in Japan will want me to go to dinner, but I always decline because I have two shows, five days a week, back to back. If I have time off, then I’m fine. But the job comes first.
“I get tired,” Love admits. “But I never get tired of it.”
Love doesn’t tire of singing the same songs, either. “Everybody likes to hear the hits,” he says. “I never get bored. When I look among the crowd — maybe we’re singing “You Make Me Feel Brand New”— some people are clapping. Some are crying. Some are laughing. The song represents different things to different people each time we do it, and that keeps things fresh.”
Of concert experiences, Love notes that the most memorable for him was performing to 65,000 people in South Africa two years after apartheid ended. “We did ‘Betcha By Golly Wow,’ and everybody had either a cigarette lighter or a match. I looked out and saw all these flames from 65,000 people, and it just blew my mind.”
At 69, Love feels strong and still gets excited for every concert the group performs. “I love what I do,” he says. “As long as I feel good, I’ll go on stage, and I’ll keep singing.”