There’s freedom on the dance floor, and two electronic music icons bring it.
Ten City was a Chicago-based R&B/house music trio that had several club hits — especially popular in gay clubs of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Like legendary innovative record producer/remixer/DJ Frankie Knuckles, also a Black Midwesterner, Ten City was one of the first exponents of deep house.
Originally, the group was formed in 1987 with vocalist Byron Stingily, guitarist Herb Lawson and keyboardist Byron Burke. They were signed by Atlantic Records and released the album Foundation in 1989, which became the group’s crossover hit, peaking at No. 49 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
The sound was unmistakably rich with a synthesis of programmed drums, sequencers, bass modules, keys, wah-wah guitar, synthesizers, that blend into a sonic euphoria. Ten City’s R&B chart hit “That’s the Way Love Is” and its remixes has become the gold standard in this music genre. The song hit No. 1 on the US dance chart, and No. 8 on the UK Top 40 in 1989.
Stingily, who left the group and became a successful solo artist, re-recorded the song and brought it back to No. 1 on the US dance chart in 1999.
Ten City’s best known other singles are “Devotion” and “Right Back to You”.
Now in 2021, Byron Stingily and renowned electronic music producer Marshall Jefferson reform as Ten City, presenting their first new music in 25 years.
In keeping with their original and authentic sound, the new release single “Be Free” is bursting with their signature style. Packed with funky bass guitar licks and bright horns, the perfect hybrid of house and disco. Always using their own instrumentation, Ten City have never sampled others’ work, keeping true to their soulful, disco and deep house roots.
“’Be Free’ encompasses the spirit of Dance and House Music! Many times people focus on our differences but ‘Be Free’ speaks to how we are more alike than different. It is a song about respecting and appreciating our differences!” says Stingily.
With the sole intent of uplifting people, the song has an underlying message of inclusivity. Stingily’s lyrics remind us that we are all alike, that we all deserve freedom and we deserve to be respected. House music since its inception has always brought people together, created in the Latino, Black and LGBTQ+ scenes in early Chicago it always set out to unify, a message that is particularly significant for our time and reinforced by Stingily and Jefferson.
Releasing their first new music in 25 years, Ten City reemerge at a time when the world needs uniting more than ever; hoping to heal the divisions and create a new chapter. Now signed to Ultra Music, which presents a fitting home for this release, preserving their sound and helping share their important message.
Listen to “Be Free” here.