The Keystoners (Philadelphia, PA)
Norman Smith (Lead)
Nathaniel "Mitch" Jackson (First Tenor)
Al Singleton (Baritone)
Goliath James (Bass)
1956 – The Magic Kiss / After I Propose (Epic 9187/ Okeh 7210)
1956 – Magic kiss / I’d Write About The Blues (G&M 102)
1961 – Sleep & Dream / T.V. Girl (Riff 202)
1984 – I’ll Allways Remenber / I Don’t Know Why (Starbound 501)
1984 – That’s Why I Dream / Say Always (Starbound 502)
1988 – It’s Too Soon To Know / Hey Girl (I'm Really Over You) (Starbound 509)
1991 – It’s Never Too Soon / Little Darlin’ (Starbound 512)
1991 – My Heart Beats Again / You’re All I Want For Christmas (Starbound 514)
1992 – Therm There Eyes / Sweet Was The Wine (Starbound 516)
1992 – Gossip / Call My name (Starbound 515)
The Keystoners’ Norman Smith and Mitch Jackson were singing on Philadelphia street corners before doo-wop began. Smith and Jackson were teenagers singing spirituals and silky pop songs from the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots. Then they heard Sonny Til and the Orioles, the Baltimore group that started the vocal-harmony craze with a 1948 song, “Too Soon to Know.” Til had taken the traditional four-part gospel harmony and added a lead tenor and a bluesy feel.
Smith, Jackson and three other guys copied the Orioles’ R&B style in a group they called the Ford Brothers, after two of their members. The Ford Brothers appeared each Sunday night on The Parisian Taylor Kiddie Hour radio show, broadcast live from the old Royal Theater at 16th and South Streets. Their biggest moment was playing Harlem’s Apollo Theater one amateur night. The Korean War broke up the group. After the war, the group got Alfred Singleton, dropped other guys, and became the Paragons. Around 1955, in honor of their native state, they took the name the Keystoners.
They made “The Magic Kiss” for a local record producer, Herman Gillespie. Epic Records bought the rights for national distribution, and the quartet – Smith, Jackson, Singleton and a bass singer named Goliath James – went to New York to rerecord the song. Their voices were stronger then: Jackson, the high tenor, had to stand in another room while singing because he was too piercing for the studio microphone. By 1958, they decided to quit music. For reasons they never understood, their record suddenly quit getting airplay. Their follow-up record, “After I Propose,” never got started. For 25 years, the Keystoners turned their attention to families and jobs. Smith was a meat inspector with the Department of Agriculture. Jackson was a machinist. Singleton is a former postal worker. Then they all met and started playing as a tribute to the golden days.
The Magic Kiss After I Propose
I’d Write About The Blues Sleep & Dream
I’ll Allways Remenber Gossip
Therm There Eyes
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