Perry Thompson is not quite “on a mission from God,” as the fictional Blues Brothers would say, but he is on a musical journey to grow the four-year-old Rhythm & Blues Preservation Society (RBPS) into an international nonprofit organization that honors all genres of Black music, including rhythm & blues, jazz, soul, hip hop, reggae, gospel and Latin soul.
The initial RBPS chapter is based in Atlantic City and the resort city is expected to be the site of a RBPS Preservation Center. According to Thompson, who is the founder, CEO and president of the organization, the center will have actual exhibits from artists including albums and historic items.
More than just honoring the musical artists who have contributed to the different genres of music mentioned above, the RBPS and the preservation center will spotlight disc jockeys, composers, producers, journalists and more.
The organization has already been recognized by Gov. Phil Murphy during Black History Month earlier this year for preserving “Black music culture … in the illustrious State of New Jersey.”
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Donald Guardian honored Thompson and the RBPS with a Legislative Proclamation noting its achievements so far, including conducting classroom college tours – taking place at Stockton University last November and featuring Reggie Reg of famed hip hop group Cash Crew – and for presenting a talk on singer and pianist Nina Simone during Black History Month (also at Stockton University).
This month, RBPS held three virtual lectures on Instagram titled “This Day in Music,” which included discussion on Jimi Hendrix and the Experience’s inaugural performance (Oct. 6), Prince’s adoption of a symbol to represent his name (Oct 13), and Snoop Dogg’s 50th birthday, (Oct. 20).
Thompson developed these lecture series with RBPS Vice President, COO and Artist-in-Residence Sonja Elise Freeman (aka Queen Diva). Currently, Freeman and RBPS are turning Freeman’s critically acclaimed off-Broadway production, “Strength of a Woman: A Phyllis Hyman Tribute,” into an album and documentary.
Thompson wants to create a curriculum on the history of Black music for schools. To that end, he will be making a 90-minute presentation at the New Jersey Education Association’s annual convention in Atlantic City next month.
He also hopes to start different RBPS chapters throughout the country, including two later this year in New York and California respectively. “We will also try to build this globally,” he said. “One of my goals is to speak before the United Nations, presenting a global presentation on Black music culture.”
RBPS also interviews musical artists and/or those related to them or who have worked with them via live Instagram broadcasts. Interviews have included: Claudette Rogers Robinson, formerly of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (she was also married to Smokey Robinson); Heather Hayes, daughter of singer and composer Isaac Hayes; Deeana Brown, daughter of James Brown; and others.
Thompson is originally a native of Queens and a graduate of the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts. He is a singer and keyboardist who notes the influence of Black music on popular music throughout the decades, especially the influence of Black blues artists on rock-n-roll legends such as Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton.
He says anyone can be a RBPS member: “If you love the culture of Black music, we welcome you!”
Find out more about RBPS on Twitter, Facebook and TikTok by searching @RBPSOC, or on Instagram via @perrythompsonrbpsoc.
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