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Don't Miss It When Denver East Graduate Phillip Bailey Is Honored At Kennedy Center Honors On CBS

By Wendy Holmes, CBS4 Program Director

(CBS4) - The 42nd annual Kennedy Center Honors airs on CBS4 on Sunday (7 p.m.), and among this year's honorees is the first African American band to receive this honor: Earth, Wind and Fire. The funk band was formed in Chicago by Maurice White, but there's a big Denver connection.

Phillip Bailey
Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire performs onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Among the members of the band through the years are three former East High School students: Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk. Bailey played in the Denver club scene for two years with an R&B band before the entire group headed to Chicago.

In 1969, Maurice White formed a band with some friends called the Salty Peppers; after they moved to Los Angeles he renamed it for the elements on his astrological chart — Earth, Wind (more dramatic than "air") & Fire.

Earth, Wind & Fire burst onto the music scene with its self-title debut album in 1970 and was a dominant force in the world of music for at least two decades. They've been inducted into the Roll Hall of Fame.

Classic Open Air In Berlin
Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire on July 9, 2018 in Berlin. (credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Bailey was born at Denver Health Medical Center in 1951 and in 2012 the group helped out the Denver Health Foundation by performing at their Nightshine Gala fundraiser in Denver.

John Legend on Earth, Wind & Fire |2019 Kennedy Center Honors Backstage by The Kennedy Center on YouTube

John Legend will be among the artist performing songs by the band. He'll sing "Can't Hide Love," and you can watch a preview at

Also being honored this year are Linda Ronstadt, Sally Field and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. The other honoree is a television show for the first time -- Sesame Street becomes the first to receive that honor.

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