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The Whispers: Still smooth after

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By Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, February 12, 2010

Vocal group the Whispers, formed in 1963 by twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott, may have figured out the secret to staying together so long.

"We genuinely like each other," Walter Scott says simply.

Walter and Wallace, now in their 60s, were in high school in Los Angeles when they founded the group as a quintet with Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson (who died in 2000) and Gordy Harmon (who was replaced by Leaveil Degree in 1973).

They sang on street corners in Watts, but in 1964 they hooked up with Dore Records and became known as the Whispers because of how they sounded: soft and smooth.

Their 1978 album, "Headlights," received national attention with such songs as "(Let's Go) All the Way" and "(Olivia) Lost and Turned Out." And in 1980, their ninth album, "The Whispers," went platinum.

"We tell kids all the time, never give up on your dreams. Persevere and hang in there," Walter Scott says.

The Whispers' sound has changed over the decades but has always been marked by tight harmonies behind lead singers Walter or Wallace and a smooth R&B flavor.

The 1980s saw such sexy Whispers songs as "And the Beat Goes On" and "Rock Steady," which both hit No. 1. The group opened for such acts as the Jacksons and Stevie Wonder. "We just wanted to sing," Walter Scott says. "We were on top of the world."

Now the group has released its 22nd album, "Thankful," a funky, smooth-jazz release with a religious theme, which comes almost 10 years after the group began attending weekly Bible study at Scott's house.

The Bible study, Walter Scott says, inspired him to think more about those with less. It also inspired the Whispers to record "Thankful."

"We want to thank the fans. This CD is a way to do that," he says. "This is a special project. They can see how we evolved from a spiritual standpoint.

"To be honest with you, if this album didn't make a dime, it wouldn't matter."

The Whispers intend to continue performing as long as they can, and, after all these years, they still like one another.

For that, too, they are thankful.

"Had someone told me we would've been together this long, making a living, I would just have to laugh," Scott says.

These shows have been postponed until March 12-13. THE WHISPERS Appearing with Al Green on Friday and Saturday at DAR Constitution Hall, 176 D St. NW. Shows starts at 8 p.m. Tickets: $70. 800-551-7328. http://www.ticketmaster.com. The Download: For a sampling of the Whispers' music, check out: From "Thankful": "Praise His Holy Name" "For Thou Art With Me" From "Just Gets Better With Time": "Rock Steady" "In the Mood"


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