TIR 95: Meet the Man Who Knocked the Bottom Out for Norman Whitfield

The Whitfield Records crew, circa late 1970s: Mark Kenoly shown lower left, with Norman Whitfield to his left and Taka Boom above him.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 95 (Parts 1-3): Bassist-singer-composer Mark Kenoly, who you may not know by name but if you are a fan of late 1970s funk and R&B you have surely grooved to his playing. He was one of legendary producer Norman Whitfield’s studio aces during the peak of the former Temptations mastermind’s record label run under the Whitfield Records moniker.

From 1978 through 1982, the acts Kenoly recorded with included Rose Royce, Stargard, The Undisputed Truth, Willie Hutch, Jr. Walker, Masterpiece, Otis Day & the Knights, Spyder Turner and his own band, Mammatapee. Just some of the hits from that period include “Which Way Is Up,” “What You Waitin’ For,” “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “Showtime,” “Funkin’ Around” and “Bad Mother Funker.” He sometimes worked around the clock with musicians like James Gadson, Wah Wah Watson, Michael Nash and Victor Nix, Joe Harris, and Trey Stone, all the while picking up insights and wisdom from the masterful Whitfield.

In this deep excursion, Kenoly shares his musical roots and family; tells how he came into Whitfield’s favor as a trusted studio partner; opens the book with stories about the height of Whitfield Records, especially the songs and the magic; recounts unforgettable memories about the production giant; reveals how that world came crumbling down in the early 1980s; discusses how faith saw him through; and talks about his life today and acts he presently works with.