MOMENT OF TRUTH
“I always wanted to find out, if I really had what it took to make it as a professional, and at the age of nineteen I quit my job and started going to the city, going out on auditions. I didn’t know, what was going to happen, but within three months I got my first record deal and that was with Moment of Truth. I’m an original member of Moment of Truth.”
Those days the other members of the group included Billy Jones (lead), who’s still active and has recently recorded with Ivery (see later), Michael Garrison (tenor) and Norris Harris (baritone). “I talked to Michael last week. He’s fine. He’s here in New York, up in Harlem. He’s a working man, but he’s still singing.”
“Norris Harris is in the West Indies. He’s in a small island near Bermuda called Barbuda, and he runs a hotel there. He’s also on the radio. He’s still very much active in music as a concert promoter. Norris actually sang with L.J. in Chocolate Syrup” (in the early 70s).
Those days Ivery was known as Caprice. “My parents gave that name to me. Caprice was my stage name back then. I’m actually thinking about taking it back again and using it again today, because a lot of people know me as Caprice and don’t really make the connection between Caprice and Ivery. Nobody knew me as Ivery back then.”
Moment of Truth released its first singles on Roulette in 1974 and ’75. “Before there was Moment of Truth, it was an idea – actually like a group of studio musicians. There was a guy named John Mitchell, who went into the studio and cut those Roulette Records”
Roulette 7158: Your Love/If At First You Don’t Succeed (You Can Try Again) in 1974 (# 68-soul);
Roulette 7164: Helplessly/(disco) in 1975 (# 74-soul)
They made those records, before there was a Moment of Truth. At one point, when Helplessly was cut, Reid Whitelaw and Norman Bergen (http://normanbergen.com) wanted actually to make a group and represent Moment of Truth on stage. They organized auditions, and that’s when we come in and become Moment of Truth and brought it alive.”
On Salsoul the group had four more single releases and one album:
- Salsoul 2009: So Much for Love/Helplessly in 1976
- Salsoul 2025: You Got Me Hummin’/You Got Me Hummin’ in 1977
- Salsoul 2027: Lovin’ You Is Killin’ Me/So Much for Love in 1977
- Salsoul 2042: You Got Me Hummin’/Somehow You Make Me Feel in 1977
- Salsoul 5509: Moment of Truth in 1977 (the album).
Four of those Salsoul single sides appear on the 8-track album, which offers mostly fast Philly type of disco music, melodic and effortless. But it was only that one album. “More than anything else, it was record industry politics. We were actually beginning to work on a second album, rehearsing the material for it, but there was some disagreement between our management and Salsoul Records – Ken and Stan Cayre, the people that were controlling Salsoul – about what direction they wanted to take the group in. The end result was that we suffered, because they just turned their focus to Double Exposure and First Choice.”
The group appeared still on a movie soundtrack called Nocturna on MCA in 1979 together with Gloria Gaynor, Vicki Sue Robinson, Jay Siegel and Heaven ‘N’ Hell Orchestra. They sing on two tracks, Love at First Sight and I’m Hopelessly in Love with You - both uptempo airy Philly disco delights. “In that movie I got to play the best role I could possibly get. I got to play Ivery Bell. It was hard work, but I had to learn how to play that part (laughing). We played ourselves, Moment of Truth. That was a crazy movie about Dracula’s granddaughter hiring my group to come to Transylvania and sing and play in the castle.”
“The original guys disbanded in 1983. We put the group back on stage with a couple of replacements, Jon Maurice and Cedric Washington, at one point Chuck Stanley. Cedric had sung with Billy Jones in a group called Come in 1972. We did a lot of touring, some concerts, but we never recorded again. Actually we did record a few songs, but we didn’t release them. I still have them in my archives.”
“After Moment of Truth, I started singing gospel somewhere through the late 80s into the 90s. I met some people, who introduced me to gospel music, and I fell in love with it. I grew up in the church. At one point I wanted to use my gift to glorify God, so I started to listen to the Winans, James Cleveland, John P. Kee, Helen Baylor... I started singing more and more on the gospel circuits, in different churches and gospel concerts, and that eventually led me to releasing a gospel CD.”
“In-between Moment of Truth and the gospel CD I was mostly doing live stuff. I became a choir director, I started teaching voice, I did a lot of things. At one point I took a short hiatus from the music business, but when I came back I really got deeply involved in gospel music.”
Released in Ivery’s Spirit Heart Records in 2010, Just Praisn’ is an 18-track gospel CD with many guests, including Billy Jones from Moment of Truth on God Is Standing By. Still on YouTube you’ll find Ivery doing a duet with Nova on a song called You Light up My Love. “Nova is a young lady. When I wrote that song, I was looking for somebody to sing it with me. She was performing at a club in Manhattan. I walked up to her, introduced myself and said ‘I heard you’re a really good singer, and I’m looking for somebody to do a duet with me’. I sang the song to her right there and she just jumped in and sang the lines back to me and I said ‘you’re hired’. Just like that! A week later I took her into the studio, and we cut it.”
Prior to the Dramatics, Ivery was working for almost two years with Blue Magic. “Blue Magic were looking for a first tenor lead singer. A concert promoter, producer and entrepreneur named Darryl Payne put us in touch. He knew I was also a dancer and a choreographer. Blue Magic had a certain style of choreography and he thought I would be a great match for them. I met with Wendell Sawyer, then Keith Beaton and Fernando Kee. Wendell hired me right on the spot (laughing). I was hired to replace Wade Elliott as the new lead singer.”
“Now in the Dramatics I’m looking forward to working with L.J. and the guys. I’ve always loved the Dramatics. They’ve made some great records throughout the years. I feel honoured to be a member. No-one can replace Ron Banks, but I look forward to bringing my talent to the table and just keeping the legacy going.” (www.iverybell.com; interview conducted on January 8 in 2012; acknowledgements to Iris Smith).