'The Promise' Of A Classic R&B Band

Some veteran bands seem to be ageless. As many fans would attest, Earth, Wind & Fire fits into that category.

The Rock and Roll "Hall of Famers" performed classic hits and new songs from their first album in six years, "The Promise," on The Early Show.

Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the most important R&B acts of the 1970s. It consists of founder and singer Maurice White, singer Philip Bailey, with White's brother Verdine on bass, and drummer-turned-vocalist Ralph Johnson.

The group's new album, "The Promise," was co-produced by Maurice White, who no longer tours with the group, but stays active behind the scenes. White, however, performed with Earth, Wind & Fire on The Early Show concert. He says, "I certainly do miss it. It's great being back."

It took several years for the group to come up with an album that has a mixture of vintage and today's sounds. Verdine White says, "We worked on that over four or five years. It was a lot of hard work. We put a lot of time in it and we hope everybody likes it." Bailey adds, "I think that we came up with the right mix of songs that everybody should like the album.

The legendary Funk and R&B group has sold over 40 million U.S. albums in its 34 years with hits such as: "Shinning Star" (1975), "Can't Hide Love" (1975), "Getaway" (1976), "September" (1978), their cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" (1978), "Boogie Wonderland" (1979), "After the Groove Is Gone" (1979) and the dance floor classic "Let's Groove" (1981).

It's been 34 years, but the group says it feels like yesterday. Bailey says the group is most proud of "the fans that supported us for all these years, and giving us the opportunity to do what we love to do - most definitely."

One of the things the group tries to do is provide uplifting music. "We try to do music with a conscience. We'd never look back and say, 'We are embarrassed or ashamed.' It paid off for us," Bailey says, "We hope we've been inspiring. We hope we've been true to the art form and have made people feel good."

The first version of Earth, Wind & Fire was assembled by Maurice White in 1969. The group combined showmanship with their jazz/funk-influenced music in the 1970s. The formula worked. The group has won six Grammy Awards. Its members became the first black performers to headline throughout the world without an opening act. It was the biggest-selling act of any kind in the history of Columbia Records. And, with its elaborate costumes and stage effects, Earth, Wind & Fire's stage performances are legendary.

Earth, Wind & Fire earned a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, plus it gained BET's Lifetime Achievement Award and ASCAP's Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award in 2002.