One for the Money, Two for the Show...

By Sarah Spitz

Share Story on:

One for the Money, Two for the Show...
The tale goes that on a November night in 1970, the co-founder of one of the most successful vocal groups of all time, The Temptations, walked out after the first show at the famed Copacabana night club, following one final dispute with other group members. He never returned. Eddie Kendrick – Motown added an “s” to his name when they began producing The Temptations – was renowned for his tenor/falsetto voice as the lead on some of their best-known early songs, including “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Get Ready” and “Just My Imagination,” among numerous other chart-making hits. Now back for a second run at the Ahmanson Theatre, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” is in town for a very short time—only until January 1. The Ahmanson had a hand in helping this wildly popular and Tony Award-winning jukebox musical make its way to Broadway. Young Jalen Harris is part of the national touring company, portraying Eddie Kendrik(s) on tour and here in LA. When I spoke with Jalen, he had a hint of a cold from being on multiple planes throughout different climate zones. Jalen’s unusual name comes with an unusual story: “Before I was born, after months of trying to choose a name, my parents finally decided to call me Emmanuel. But in the hospital where I was born, the TV was tuned to a basketball game, and the announcer mentioned a player, Jalen Rose, and my parents said, ‘That’s it! We’re naming him Jalen.’” (NOTE: there is also a Jalen Harris who’s in the NBA now, playing for the New York Knicks. And Jalen Rose has become a successful broadcast TV sports analyst.) This Jalen has been singing since he was a child but first made waves as one of the youngest contestants on “American Idol.” “I grew up singing in the church, and over time my father began managing me; I entered talent shows around my home town Memphis, and got involved in extra-curricular activities involving music. Education was very important to my parents and they didn’t want me to become a child star. “But I’d just finished my freshman year of high school as Season 10 of American Idol launched, and my mom called me immediately to say, ‘They’ve lowered the age from 16 to 15. You’ve been waiting for this your whole life, let’s get you to the audition!’” He went to Nashville and made it into competition, performing along with a group of 15 and 16-year-olds, who were highlighted on the show, although they didn’t make the final round. But that became Jalen’s first national platform, and at age 16, he recorded his first album; after finishing high school he moved to Atlanta, signed with an agent, and began acting and modeling, while continuing to focus on his music. And then came Ain’t Too Proud. “The Temptations were always a staple in my family, especially during the holidays. I grew up hearing their Christmas album, I sang ‘Get Ready’ at a middle school assembly. That was all I knew, but of course I began researching Eddie’s story, watching interviews, and listening closely to the music to grasp the sound and style. Eddie is the god of the high tenor/falsetto.” Jalen is moved by Eddie’s history. “His involvement with the group was so important; he brought his best friend Paul Williams in and they really created the original act. But as time went on, things changed, and we track the story of what caused him to leave. He is the only Temptation to go solo and chart a number one song. For me, it is an honor to tell his story.” The musical is based on the history of the Temptations written by Otis Williams, the last living member of the original group, an L.A. resident who has seen it many times around the country. I asked Jalen if there’s a takeaway from Otis’s words and this show that has landed with him. “Yes, it may sound simple but for anyone on earth, we have everything to share and nothing to prove. These boys from Alabama, Mississippi and Texarkana moved north to find a better life. They shared their gift, without knowing that it would make them the greatest superstars of their time and would create this legacy so many decades later. I will use that guidance in my career from here on out. Everything to share, nothing to prove.” An L.A. Christmas Eve Tradition Enjoy Christmas weekend by attending or watching the Emmy Award-winning L.A. County Holiday celebration, a tradition since 1959, on Saturday, Dec. 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. This 63rd annual event is free, whether in person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or watching on TV/live streaming from PBS SoCal, featuring more than 20 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies from the many neighborhoods and cultures that make up L.A. KCET rebroadcasts in the evening and on Christmas day. Find details at Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.

Share Story on:

December 23, 2022