The K-City Records Story

 

K-City Records was first composed by musician, artist, songwriter Eugene “Smiley” and musician, arranger, songwriter, Keith Montgomery in Kansas City, Missouri during year 1976. After a certain time period the two realized they needed a third person to complete the K-City Records team. The third person added was songwriter Albert White.

Keith met Smiley one evening after doing a gig in Kansas City. Smiley came up to him and complimented him on his bass playing. He was pleasantly surprised to meet Smiley because he had heard a lot about him. He had planned to seek Smiley out, but Smiley beat Keith to the punch. The two played in separate bands on separate days at the Town Hall Ball Room yet had at no time crossed paths.

After their initial meeting they exchanged phone numbers, and Keith contacted Smiley a few weeks later and told him about an idea he had on establishing a record company in Kansas City, Missouri and naming it K-City Records. Smiley knew of a company in Nashville called IRDA (International Record Distributing Association) who could handle the distribution. The only problem was these two entrepreneurs had no money. They were both in college at the time, working part time and working as musicians. They decided to put a band together, do gigs around town then use the money to go into a 24 track Recording Studio. This is how they recorded the group Eugene Smiley and The Essence of Love’s first 45 record titled “We’re Lover’s Day and Night” and flip “Yes It’s You.” Keith wrote the charts out for the musicians. (Note—At the time Keith was living upstairs in a small church parsonage with 2 roommates. His living room turned into a full time rehearsal hall. This is where they rehearsed all the songs with the musicians and the singers.)

Once the rhythm tracks, horns, vocals and strings were recorded they were able to convince a friend to invest a little money in the 45 record for the mixing and mastering of the record. (Note—Recording and Conducting real strings for an R&B record in Kansas City during the 70’s was very unusual, if at all. A lot of people took note of this.)

The next problem they encountered was accomplishing a good professional mix in Kansas City for an R&B 45 record. They decided the mix would have to be done in Chicago. The money was still tight so only one person could go to Chicago to do the mix. Keith went to Paragon Studios in Chicago and worked with engineer Barry Mraz to mix the 45 record. This turned out to be a very successful one-day trip in many ways. (Note—Smiley had previous experience recording in Chicago having been a member of the vocal group called The Visitors. The Visitors recorded in Chicago during the late 60s on the Dakar Records Label)

The 45 record “We’re Lover’s Day And Night” and flip “Yes It’s You” came out and did well in the few markets K-City Records was able to promote it in. They also noticed in the Black Radio Exclusive Magazine (BRE) that their 45 record was being played on a few stations in the South and Midwest. This was kind of a big deal for 2 college students in the 70’s with a dream, no money and living in the Midwest. (Note—“Yes It’s You” is still being played in the USA, UK and other European Countries today. This song was written by Albert and Smiley and arranged by Keith.)

Their next 45 record recorded was a song that Albert and Keith wrote titled “I Want To Share My Love With You” and a ballad that Keith wrote titled “I Want You To Marry Me”. The rhythm section for the first record was the rhythm section of Keith's college jazz band. The band had a pretty tight sound and played various styles of music.

In preparing to record their second 45 record Smiley, Keith and Albert realized they could not record a good commercial rhythm section sound in a Kansas City Recording Studio so they decided to go back to Chicago to record their next 45 record. They could not afford to take the rhythm section to Chicago so they hired top session musicians in Chicago and Keith played bass guitar on this record titled “I Want To Share My Love With You” and flip “I Want You To Marry Me.” Some of the Chicago session musicians on this record are: Quinton Joseph (Drums), Floyd Morris (Keyboards), Byron Gregory (Guitar), Terry Fryer (Synthesizer), Sol Bobrov (String Contractor/Violinist). This 45 record was not released during that time because the Disco Era had moved in and began taking over. (Note--Smiley had recorded with some of these musicians during the late 60's. These musicians also recorded with Chicago music legend Carl Davis.)

The next 45 record recorded were two songs Keith wrote entitled, “Come On Let’s Dance” and flip, “The Longer I’m Away From You.” This time they were able to take the Kansas City rhythm section to Chicago to record. This was a 45 record K-City Records produced on a female group called “Jackie & Oneida.” Unfortunately they did not have enough money to properly promote the record so it was never released. As money permitted they continued to do more recording sessions in Kansas City on Eugene Smiley & The Essence Of Love as well as other acts.

In the 90's and through 2000 K-City Records recorded and released a few Blues CD's on Eugene Smiley, Brody Buster, James Gilbert, The Big Woody Band and a Christmas CD by Bobby Adams. They also recorded a live CD with Eugene Smiley and the Late Great Queen Of Funk Marva Whitney as well as recording a unreleased studio CD on her.

Individually Keith and Smiley were in demand by other Artist and Record Labels in the area. Keith Produced and Arranged four songs (in which he wrote one of them) for Elmer Overton a.k.a.E.L. Overton for the NECO Record Label. The 45 record called "I Am Here For You" by E.L. Overton is still in high demand today worldwide (View “I Am Here For You” at Discogs)

Smiley wrote the song called "Blues This Morning" recorded by James Gilbert on the Quinn Records Label. The record is currently playing in 18 Countries including the U.S. (View the Quinn Records Article here)

Kansas City has always been immersed in the rich musical culture of Jazz, Blues and R&B. With little to no money K-City Records has been able to showcase just how gifted and talented singers and musicians are in Kansas City. It is because of this trio's musical vision that K-City Records is recognized all over the world. 

 

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