Ann Peebles, Sam Moore, Other Soul Stars Join Luther Ingram Benefit

More than three dozen R&B performers to play concert in Memphis to help pay singer's medical bills.

Ann Peebles, Sam Moore, Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas will join more than three dozen other veteran R&B, soul and gospel performers for an upcoming concert to benefit one of their own — Stax recording artist Luther Ingram, who faces staggering medical bills and a life-threatening illness.

Ingram, 55, is best known for his 1972 hit "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" (RealAudio excerpt), as well as for co-writing the Staple Singers' 1971 song "Respect Yourself." He suffers from severe diabetes and underwent a kidney transplant in December, according to Cherrie Holden, business manager for High Stacks Records.

The label is helping to organize the July 25 benefit concert in Memphis, Tenn., to raise money to help pay Ingram's hospital bills. Ingram has some health insurance, but it only covers a small part of his expenses, Holden said.

Randy Stewart, a longtime friend of Ingram's, began putting the benefit together earlier this year, intending it to be a small-scale concert. It's since grown, however, into what he calls "the biggest assemblage of talent ever to hit Memphis."

Many of the surviving artists who recorded for the storied Memphis soul/R&B labels Stax/Volt and rival Hi Records will perform at the all-day concert. They were equally eager to participate in the benefit, according to Stewart, a former member of the '60s soul group the Fiestas and a Stax/Volt recording engineer.

"We were all a big family in those days," he explained. "Sometimes their people would work for us, and sometimes our people would work for them."

Peebles recorded hits such as "I Can't Stand the Rain" (1974) and "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" (1973) for Hi Records. On Monday she said she joined the concert's lineup to help Ingram, even though the two musicians are only acquaintances. "I agreed [to play] because of his condition. I think any entertainer would do the same," she said from her home in Memphis.

The concert will run from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Memphis. The musicians will perform in a banquet room that holds about 2,000 people, Stewart said, adding that he expects the audience to turn over as the day progresses, ultimately reaching about 5,000 people.

Moore was half of the soul vocal duo Sam & Dave. With his late partner David Prater, Moore enjoyed such hits as "Hold On (I'm Coming)" and "Soul Man." Thomas, who wrote the R&B standard "Walking the Dog" (1963), will be joined at the show by his daughter, Carla, with whom he had the 1960 hit "Cause I Love You." Carla is also known for her duets with soul legend Otis Redding on the 1967 album King and Queen, which included the track "Tramp."

Also performing will be Eddie Floyd, best known for the 1966 classic "Knock on Wood," (RealAudio excerpt) and singer/songwriter David Porter, who wrote "Hold On (I'm Coming)"

(RealAudio excerpt) and many other hits with his former partner, singer Isaac Hayes. Several groups — including the Bar-Kays, a band that backed Redding and Hayes, and the Mad Lads, who had the mid-'60s hit "I Want Someone" — will play as well.

Although he was initially hesitant to agree to the concert, Ingram is now looking forward to attending, though his condition prevents him from performing, Stewart said. Ingram, who last charted with the 1986 song "Baby Don't Go Too Far," is surprised and touched at the outpouring of support from his fellow musicians, Stewart said.

"I think it is going to be a very special show because of what it's for," Peebles said. "I love to see artists coming together like this. It's gonna be great to see all these people."

Tickets for the show are available for a $25 donation. For tickets, call Stewart at (901) 789-1002.