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Little bit of soul Stephanie Mills, Whispers will share sounds for romance

Fads come and go in R&B. Soul, however, endures, regardless of the milieu surrounding it.

At 8 tonight, Shea's Performing Arts Center will host some sweet '70s soul/pop/R&B sounds, as the dulcet tones and heavenly harmonies of the Whispers and the effortless, breathy timbre of Stephanie "Never Knew Love Like This Before" Mills join forces for an evening of romantic jams.

A deep pedigree will fill the hallowed halls of Shea's. The Whispers have been singing together since the early '60s, and Mills has been working in musicals and recording studios ever since she took top honors at the famed amateur night in Harlem's Apollo Theater, at the tender age of 11.

Musically, both artists have negotiated a winning balance between commercial viability and soulful integrity. That means there is adherence to tradition -- some overtones of gospel groups and church singing remain in the work of both the Whispers and Mills -- as much as there is a clear-eyed embracing of straight-up dance music, from disco to funk to the slick physique of modern hip-hop.

Mills, in fact, had been recording soul music for years before she ever broke through to mass success. That success came smack-dab in the middle of the disco era, which embraced Mills and her hits "Put Your Body in It," "You Can Get Over" and "What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin.' "

Most recently, Mills has worked with modern gospel singer BeBe Winans and rapper DMX, in the process bringing her still powerful voice to the attention of a new generation of listeners.

e-mail: jmiers@buffnews.com

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PREVIEW

WHO: The Whispers and Stephanie Mills

WHEN: 8 tonight

WHERE: Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.

TICKETS: $38 to $53

INFO: www.sheas.org

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