Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff

Johnny Mercer Award

Songwriter duo Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff have been writing music together for more than 50 years. Their award-winning partnership has generated more than 3,500 songs, including 50 chart pop and R&B hit singles and 75 RIAA gold, platinum and multi-platinum certifications. Their catalog includes hits such as The Supremes’ “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” recorded by both Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and Thelma Houston, Jerry Butler’s “Only The Strong Survive,” which was later recorded by Elvis Presley, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” earned the songwriting duo its first Grammy® for Simply Red’s rendition, the O’Jay’s “For The Love Of Money,” and countless others, including “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” and the theme song for Soul Train, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia).” The pair has won five Grammy’s® for their songwriting and collected 86 BMI Pop and R&B Awards. Gamble and Huff also have their own record label, Philadelphia International Records, which they formed in 1971.

Gamble and Huff met in the early 1960’s.  Their first collaboration was with Gamble’s band, the Romeos, which featured Gamble as lead singer and Huff on keyboard.  Realizing they shared a passion for songwriting, they formed a production company and began the songwriting partnership that still exists today.  Their first songs were for local Philadelphia artists, including the Soul Survivors’ biggest hit “Expressway To Your Heart,” the Intruders’ first number one R&B single and first platinum song “Cowboys To Girls,” Wilson Picket’s “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You” and Jerry Butler’s romantic hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.”  In the first years of their label, their roster of artists included: The O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, MFSB, the Three Degrees, the Ebony’s and the Futures. The pair secured a distribution deal with CBS Records and two years after its formation, Philadelphia International Records became the second-largest African-American owned music company, just behind Motown Records.  By 1974 Gamble, Huff and co-publisher Thom Bell had formed one of the most successful African-American owned publishing companies called Mighty Three Music, placing more than 25 hits on the Billboard charts annually.

Throughout the 1970’s, the duo wrote for Lou Rawls, The Three Degrees,  Dee Dee Sharp, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Jones and the Jones Girls,  Third World, Archie Bell and the Drells and many more. In 1976, Gamble and Huff produced and co-wrote songs for the Jacksons’ first two post-Motown albums. In the late 1970’s, they collaborated on a series of successful albums for Teddy Pendergrass, who became one of the top-selling solo singers of that time. Throughout the 1980’s they continued to pen hit songs for the top soul, pop and R&B artists, including Patti Labelle and Phyllis Hyman.

By the 1990’s Gamble and Huff started to receive many prestigious accolades.  In 1993 they were inducted into the Philadelphia Music Foundation’s Walk of Fame, and in 1995 they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1999 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) awarded them with the Trustees Award, honoring them for their body of work, both as producers and songwriters and for their contribution to the entire fabric of popular music.  In 2005, they were inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, in 2006 they were honored with the Ivor Novello Award by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, in 2008 they were inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Ahmet Ertegun Award and in 2009 they were honored at the BMI Pop Icon Awards.

Most recently, Gamble and Huff’s catalog has been covered or sampled by a vast array of artists including Jay-Z, Babyface, Nelly, OutKast, Angie Stone, Bette Midler, Mary J. Blige, Michael Buble, Kanye West, 50 Cent and T.I., among others.  Gamble and Huff’s music has also been featured in television, film and advertising for more than 30 years, including the theme songs for Soul Train and the reality show The Apprentice. Their music has also appeared on other TV programs, including Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, films such as Guess Who and The Nutty Professor, American Hustle and ad campaigns for Verizon, Old Navy, Gap and Coors. 

Legendary Songwriters, Gamble and Huff still continue to write songs together to this day. They will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary starting in the fall of 2014 with their projected release of their Autobiographical Book and the 2015 launch of their Theatrical Play on their historic Life Story and creation of one of America’s great music catalogues known as “The Sound of Philadelphia.” Gamble also helps to develop other writers and producers in the Philadelphia area, focusing on improving the lives of others through investments into the African-American communities and Huff is currently completing an R&B and Jazz style album.