photo from Creative and Dreams Music Network
by Justin Tucker
Do you have a favorite Motown song? If you do, it was most likely written by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Lamont Dozier, legendary songsmith and one-third of the Holland-Dozer-Holland team that helped shape the Motown sound. Classic tunes like “Nowhere to Run” by Martha and the Vandellas, “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” by Marvin Gaye are just a few of many hit songs Dozier has had his hand in. He’s also a Golden Globe winner and an Oscar nominee.
Last month, Chicago Children’s Theater premiered for the world Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, a family musical with songs written by Lamont and his son, Paris Dozier, and based on the children’s book by Christopher Paul Curtis about kiddie investigators and a dollar bill with the likeness of James Brown. The Doziers’ delightful songs feature hip-shaking Motor City R&B and soul as well as funky hip-hop and rap.
Recently, I had the honor of sharing a brief conversation with the American master about creating music with his son and his involvement in musical theater.
UR Chicago: How did you get to be involved with Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money?
Lamont Dozier: Well I was contacted by a person looking for songwriters that might be interested in working on the project about three years ago, and what happened was I sitting in some hotel auditioning... and lo and behold I was the one they picked to do the music for it, and I’m glad I did because I think it’s spectacular. I had so much fun doing it too!
UR: You also got to work with your son.
LD: Yes! Paris did a lot of the rap and hip-hop and he did a great job too.
UR: I like how it branched off into hip-hop. It gave it a unique flair and bridges generations.
LD: Right! [There’s] something there for everybody. You know what I mean?
UR: How does working with your son compare to working with some of the other legends you worked with?
LD: It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had! [He chuckles.]
UR: You’ve been a trailblazer with Motown and now you’re branching off into musical theater. Is there any other frontiers you’d like to conquer?
LD: Well right now, it’s just theater. I have another six or seven shows in the making in various stages, and I’m going to be doing that for quite awhile it seems. [He chuckles.] I got my work cut out for me!
UR: That’s all I have. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
LD: I think I would say that everybody should come out if they can and see the show. It’s great family fun!
Visit Lamont Dozier's Official Website
Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money runs until March 2nd at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.