by Rahmana Finney
Ok there is something in the snow in Minneapolis, Minnesota, or maybe the waters of Lake Minnetonka are actually magical, because it has quietly produced some of the greatest R&B, Soul, and Funk Music that we have. Perhaps it’s because two gentlemen named James Harris and Terry Lewis resided there … just thoughts!
Well Mint Condition is yet another prodigy of this prolific production duo. I often think of Mint Condition as the last of the live bands, because they miraculously survived the electronic music age during which the live band seemed to be dying a slow death. Interestingly, it is precisely because of their musical expertise that they have been so successful.
They incorporate multiple musical styles in their live show including Jazz, Reggae, Latin, Rock, R&B, Soul, and of course Funk. Comprised of lead singer and phenomenal vocalist Stokley Williams, Ricky Kinchen (bass), Homer O’Dell (guitar), Larry Waddell (keys), and Jeffrey Allen (sax), like the bands from back in the day, they have been together FOREVER—since high school in 1984.
Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis signed them to Perspective Records in 1989 in Minneapolis where they released their debut album in 1991 Meant to be Mint which gave us their first smash hit Breakin My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes). It stayed on the charts for 34 weeks, hitting #3 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Pop charts. Forever In Your Eyes was also on that album and it hit #7 on the R&B charts.
They released their second album From The Mint Factory in 1993 and that gave us U Send Me Swinging which stayed at #2 on the R&B charts for four weeks straight. They released their third album Definition of a Band in 1996 and from that we got the monumental hit What Kind Of Man Would I Be? which stayed on the charts for a whopping 41 weeks. This is nothing compared to the fact that it has been consistently played on the radio for the last 20 years!
They were nominated in 2017 for a Grammy for their Christmas Album Healing Season, and they continue to tour and perform to this day. Thank you Minneapolis, and thank you Mint condition for keeping the Funk alive!