New Birth

New Birth was an American soul-psych ensemble that released seven albums on RCA Victor between 1970 and 1976, plus two albums on Warner Bros. and a title apiece on Buddah and Ariola during the second half of the decade. They formed through a merger of three entities: male vocal quartet The Now Sound, female vocal group The Mint Juleps, and Louisville instrumental combo The Nite-Liters.

Members: Tony Churchill (saxophone, vocals, 1970-82), James Baker (keyboards, drums, vocals, 1970-82), Charlie Herndon (guitar, 1970-82), Robert Jackson (trumpet, vocals, 1970-82), Austin Landers (saxophone, vocals, 1970-82), Leroy Taylor (bass, 1970-82), Allen Frey (vocals, 1970-82), Bobby Downs (vocals, 1970-82), Londee Loren (vocals, 1970-77, 1982), Butch McDonald (drums, 1970-74), Ron Coleman (vocals, 1970-71), Gary Young (vocals, 1970-71), Slim (vocals, 1970-71), Tanita Gaines (vocals, 1970-71), Janice Carter (vocals, 1970-71), Pam Swent (vocals, 1970-71), Melvin Wilson (vocals, 1972-77, 1994-present), Leslie Wilson (vocals, 1972-77, 1994-present), Ann Bogan (vocals, 1972-73), Robin Russell (drums, 1975-81), Carl McDaniel (guitar, 1975-77), Jerry Bell (vocals, 1978-79), Dawn Pree (vocals, 1979-81)

New Birth assembled in 1969 through a partnership between Motown writer/arrangers Vernon Bullock and Harvey Fuqua. The deal merged instrumental funksters The Nite-Liters — saxophonists Tony Churchill and Austin Landers, keyboardist James Baker, guitarist Charlie Herndon, trumpeter Robert Jackson, bassist Leroy Taylor, and drummer Butch McDonald — with two unrecorded vocal groups: the all-male Now Sound (Ron Coleman, Bobby Downs, Allen Frey, Gary Young) and the all-female Mint Juleps (Tanita Gaines, Janice Carter, Pam Swent, Londee Wiggins).

The Night-Liters were formed in 1963 Louisville under the auspices of Fuqua, who recorded himself in the ’50s doo-wop combos The Moonglows and The Marquees (with a pre-fame Marvin Gaye). Prior to the merger, they cut one single as The Niteliters: “Coffee House Rendezvous” (b/w “Sounds of the Coffee House”), a limited pressing on Liza Records.

In 1969, New Birth premiered with the RCA single “It’s You or No One” (b/w “Pretty Words Don’t Mean a Thing (Lie to Me)”). Starting in 1970, they commenced with one-to-two albums per year while The Nite-Liters recorded concurrently as a autonomous unit.


  • The New Birth (1970)
  • Ain’t No Big Thing, But It’s Growing (1971)
  • Coming Together (1972)
  • Birth Day (1973)
  • Comin’ From All Ends (1974)
  • It’s Been a Long Time (1974)
  • Blind Baby (1975)
  • Love Potion (1976)
  • Reincarnation (1976)
  • Behold the Mighty Army (1977)
  • Platinum City (1979)
  • I’m Back (1982)


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