Home Biographies A portrait of the star chanter and songwriter Steve Arrington
A portrait of the star chanter and songwriter Steve Arrington PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Saturday, 25 September 2010 15:04


Steven Ralph Arrington was born in 1956 to Dan and Lillian Arrington in Great Lakes, Illinois. Shortly after his birth the family returned to their hometown of Dayton Ohio. Music has always been a part of Arrington’s life. He grew up listening to the popular music of the day on the radio and in the family home on the record player. Iconic singers like Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye are just two of the names that impacted on his young life, foretelling what would be a relatively successful music career.

By age five, Steve Arrington was already demonstrating one of the musical skills he would become adept at playing drums. Pots and pans were his instruments then (One can imagine the sounds of the clanging and banging, making his parents and siblings happy. It was his latent talent bubbling to the surface). His grandparents recognized his incipient talent, and at age seven bought him his first drum set. He was well on his way to becoming a successful musician. By age 13, Steve Arrington was a regular performer in the Dayton Battle of the Bands talent show. He was a regular feature performer in various talent shows around the city, serious business in his hometown, akin to the old Star Search TV show or American Idol.

As Arrington continued to hone his musical skills, he was determined to make a name for himself in Dayton, becoming a highly touted and demanded drummer in Dayton. He played with local bands of the day, such as The Soul Illusions and Eluders, an opening act for popular crooners of the day. Names like Spider Turner, The Five Stair Steps, Irma Franklin, and others…

By his senior year in high school, he had hooked up with another band, The Young Mystics, many of whom would go on to form the core members of the late 70s, 1980s Funk band Slave. In 1975, Steve Arrington and his friend Victor Godsey (who became the keyboard player with Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame) began touring the United States with a lounge band called the Murphy’s. In the interim, Slave signed a recording contract with Cotillion Records, and soon released their self-titled debut album. It went to the top of the Soul charts with the #1 Funk hit, Slide, which earned Slave a Best New Group and Best Male Group Grammy nomination in 1977.  

Always passionate about his music, in 1977 Steve Arrington relocated to California to hone his musical skills with legendary Latin percussionist Coke Escovedo. He also played with Pete and Sheila [E] Escovedo. His sojourn to California included an extended tour with the Salsa West Coast Latin All Stars, led by the Escovedos, featuring one Carlos Santana on guitar. Arrington returned to Dayton in 1978 and hooked up with Slave, as the drummer and later as lead singer. The result was five albums, including The Concept and Showtime. The group released smash hits like “Just a Touch of Love” in 1979 followed by “Watching You” in 1980 and “Snap Shot” in 1981. In 1982, Arrington founded the innovative funk band, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame and released two albums, Hall Of Fame I and Positive Power.

In 1984 was a turning point in Steve Arrington’s life; he had a Christian epiphany and transformation. But he continued to record music, releasing three albums, including Dancin' In The Key Of Life (the most successful solo recording), The Jammin' National Anthem and Jam Packed. In 1986, Arrington was nominated for an NAACP Image Award as Male Artist of the year; that same year, he embarked on a very successful “Dancin' in the Key of Life” European Tour. According to music editor, Scott Galloway, the album paved the road for groups like Sounds of Blackness and Be Be and Ce Ce Winans to walk the line between gospel and secular soul.

With his evolution into a more spiritual music style, Arrington increasingly began to see himself as a music minister of the Gospel. By 1991, this spiritual transition saw him completely removed from the record industry “to seek God and truly find God’s will for his life”. This transformation allowed him to solidify his faith, giving him the strength to embrace the values and expectations of his new life, while resisting and purging himself from the damaging effects of his secular life and music career (the proverbial temptations about sex, drugs and rock and roll). Since his life’s transformation, Steve Arrington has been serving as an evangelist, pastor and music minister. It’s in this new and spiritual musical world that he has found serenity and solace, by ministering to audiences both musically and orally. He continues also to maintain a busy schedule on the spiritual circuit. In 1994, a compilation The Best of Slave was released. It is widely regarded as a first-rate anthology of the group’s recordings.

Through the years, Arrington has been a keynote speaker at the People of His Presence International Praise and Worship Conference, with Rev. Derwin Ward, Martha Munizzi and Vicki Yohe. In December 2005, Steve Arrington played drums on the Hope For The Nations Tour of Cardiff, Wales, London, England and Amsterdam, Holland. Along with his wife, Leslie, both travel wherever and however they feel God leads them to spread an understanding of the Joys of the Arts in the church and the love of God to all.

Over his long career Steve Arrington has become renowned for his vocal style; this is evident on such classics as “Watching You”, “Just A touch of Love”, “Snap Shot” and “Wait For Me” all recorded with Slave; “Weak at the Knees” (sampled by Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri and many artists), and “Nobody Can Be You, But You”, etc. In August 2006, another Slave compilation, Definitive Groove was released.

On October 2nd 2009, Arrington released his latest CD, Pure Thing. He produced, wrote and arranged all the songs. On this new collection the artist pays tribute to two civil rights icons Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks on “Song for Coretta and Rosa”. It is important to highlight the date December 1st 1955, a pivotal point in American history and African-Americans fight for human rights. On that date, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Louise Parks became an historical icon when when she refused to give up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue bus to a White man. Her stoic act led to a 381-day boycott of the city’s bus system conducted by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. That event, considered as the beginning of the American Civil Rights Movement, ultimately brought the transit system to its knees.  On the morning of December 21st 1956, Dr.  King and Rev.  Glen Smiley, a White minister, shared the front seat of a bus of the newly integrated Montgomery public transit system.  It was the first victory of many hard-fought battles of the Civil Rights Movement.  Following the assassination of Rev.  Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King continued to play a significant role in keeping her husband's as well as the African-American's dream of freedom alive.  It is as a tribute to her contribution and legacy that Steve Arrington honored the mother of the Civil Rights Movement with a special song on his  latest CD.




Music and Lyrics by Steve Arrington


Praise God... Coretta we love you, and Rosa we love you; And, we thank you for letting the Lord use you.  Through the good times and the bad times you were right there at the right time, And, we thank you for letting the Lord use you over and over again.  Coretta, you and Martin set out to be a loving family.  Yeah, yeah.  With many dreams as far as the eye could see, what would be the destiny along the way, boom, here comes God with a mission that would be real hard.  Yet, ya answered the call, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Rosa, that day on the bus, ya just had it.  Ya just had enough.  Tired of runnin' and playin' it off.  Little did ya know you'd blown the roof off.  Courage came to many because of the little lady with the sweet name... Rosa, Rosa, Rosa, Rosa yeah, yeah.  It was hard.  It was so, so hard.  I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Albums with Slave

  • 1978:  The Concept-Atlantic
  • 1979:  Just a Touch of Love-Cotillion
  • 1980:  Stone Jam-Cotillion
  • 1981:  Showtime-Cotillion

Other albums

  • Steve Arrington's Hall of Fame, Vol.  1 (Atlantic 1983)
  • Positive Power (Atlantic 1984)
  • Dancin' in the Key of Life (Atlantic 1985)
  • The Jammin' National Anthem (Atlantic 1986)
  • Jac Packed (Manhattan 1987)
  • Pure Thang (God Factor Records 2009)

Solo Releases

  • 1980: Summertime Lovin'/"Special Effects From Mars"- (12") - Salsoul
  • 1985:  Dancin' In The Key Of Life - (LP) - Atlantic
  • 1985:  Dancin' In the Key Of Life - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1985:  Feel So Real - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1985:  She Just Don't Know - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1985:  Turn Up The Love - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1986:  The Jammin' National Anthem - (LP) - Atlantic
  • 1986:  The Jammin' National Anthem - (LP) - Atlantic
  • 1986:  Homeboy - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1987:  Stone Love - (12") -  EMI - Manhattan
  • 1988:  Lost And Found (You Can Find Me Present) - (12") - Nubian
  • 1991:  No Reason - (12") RCA

LP Releases as Steve Arrington's Hall of Fame

  • 1982:  Way Out/Pocket Full of Air - (12") - Konglather
  • 1983:  Hall of Fame - (LP) - Atlantic
  • 1983:  Way Out/ - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1983:  Weak At The Knees - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1983:  Nobody Can Be You - (12") - Atlantic
  • 1984:  Positive Power - (LP) - Atlantic
  • 1984:  15 Rounds (12") - Atlantic
  • 1984:  Hump To The Bump - (12") - Atlantic


  • 1994:  Stellar Fungk:  The Best of Slave Featuring Steve Arrington - Atlantic Rhino Entertainment Company
  • 2003:  Party Lights - Rhino / Atlantic-
  • 2006:  Slave

Web site:  http://www.stevearringtonministries.com/

To buy Steve Arrington latest CD go to:  http://www.digstation.com and http://www.cdbaby.com

The album Pure Thing is also available on iTunes:  http://www.amazon.com and other digital outlets

To listen to some tunes go to http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sarrington