Cuba Gooding, Sr: When Looking For Love… "Begin with the Family"

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The former lead singer and 30 year vocalist of the legendary pop and R&B group, "Main Ingredient," recently served up a brand new musical potpourri of tunes via his latest solo CD, "Begin with the Family" featured on Irie Records.

Alicia Keyes has added a bit of spice to the mix by her usage of the Main Ingredient-with Cuba Gooding, Sr. on lead vocals-as backdrop vocals on her hit single, "You Don’t Know My Name," featured on her latest CD, "The Diary of Alicia Keys." Both events, the release of his new solo CD and Alicia’s use of his vocals on her new CD, has left Gooding enjoying the delicious taste of success.

Success, however, is not unknown to Cuba Gooding, Sr. In fact, when his famous son, actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., was merely a wink in the eye of destiny, Cuba Gooding, Sr., was out wowing crowds and chart busting with such songs as: "Everybody Plays the Fool," which hit #2 on the R&B chart and #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song: "Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely," was included among the top 10 hits on the pop and R&B charts and "You’ve Been My Inspiration" was the group’s first top 10 hit. The Main Ingredient remained on the top 10 hits list with songs such as: "Spinning Around…I Must Be Falling in Love;" "Rolling Down A Mountain Side;" "Happiness is Just Around the Bend;" "I’m Gonna Make You Glad;" "Black Seeds Keep On Growing;" "I’m So Proud," and "Euphrates."

Many of these songs were recorded on the RCA Records label but Motown also signed Gooding to a recording contract. Gooding released "The First Cuba Gooding Album" and "Love Dancer" while with Motown. He went on to record albums for Streetwise Records and later recorded "Meant to be in Love" on Truine Records.

One has to start somewhere and really it all begins with the family. "My father was born in Barbados," says Cuba. "He fled Barbados and at age 16 went down the Panama Canal and ended up living in Cuba for 17 years. During that time, he married a woman who was killed as a result of political turmoil. He then moved to the States, where he met my mother in Harlem in the early 1940s. I outlined my father’s life story in my book, "Everybody Plays the Fool," stated the singer and actor. "My father was very political. He was really a black nationalist and also a lieutenant in Marcus Garvey’s Army. I got the name Cuba because my father wanted to pay homage to his first wife. He told my mother if their first child was a boy he would like to name him Cuba in his first wife’s memory. So, that is how I got my name and then I gave the name Cuba to one of my sons."

Raised in Harlem, Gooding has not forgotten his roots. He recently lent his talents to Harlem Week’s Famed Neighborhood Weekend ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ Celebration. "Performing for Harlem Week is like getting back with family again," notes the celebrity father. "At the time I was growing up in Harlem, there was the Marcus Garvey movement and the Elijah Mohammed movement. The Rasta Movement was happening and Bob Marley was happening. There was a lot of self-pride at that time. I see the shrinking of self-pride these days in today’s youth. A lot of the kids today with the emergence of certain music and sexual practices are doing things that would have been unacceptable back then. I had certain imagery during that period which led me to want to be a singer and emulate people like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. I would like to see our community re-embrace that kind of melody and lyrics once again. Alicia Keys is moving in that direction. She sampled my song and used my voice on a song of hers called ‘You Don’t Know My Name.’ That showed me that the kind of music we were doing back in the 70’s is pertinent today. I believe kids really do want to hear the melody and lyrics even to the point of recording and harmonizing it themselves. This brings me to my new album entitled, ‘Begin with the Family.’ It has this whole family theorem which I hope will save children in the future -going from the negatives and getting back to the positives with the idea of ‘I love you and you love me in mind."

In Gooding’s own personal family dynamics often the business of music took him away. "It’s hard when there is that absence of being with family at crucial and important times," commented the songster. "Especially, when your children are being molded mentally and are in need of both parents. It takes two parents to raise a child properly. That affected me and affected my relationship with my children for awhile. I think Cuba Gooding, Jr., is experiencing the same thing. I am sure it’s the same thing with many actors. When you are an entertainer and are away from home a lot, your children are contending with the absence of a father; daddies, in particular, get a bad rap. The mom’s usually are the one’s raising the children. In a lot of broken homes it’s the mom having to raise these children alone. Occasionally, you read about an incarcerated youth who will say that he is in jail because he was raised without a father figure. Although, Black men often get singled out as being absentee fathers, this is not a situation endemic to Black men. This happens just as much in the white communities. White parents break up and get divorced just as often, if not more so, then Blacks. The only difference is it’s not so widely publicized when its white men who are not fathering their children," explains the former Main Ingredient. "That is why my CD is entitled, ‘Begin with the Family.’ I hope it can be my legacy of leaving something positive. Not only regarding the music but because it stresses the importance of the existence of family. That is why I worked on this album three years to make sure I had the correct integration and or mix of love songs and exaltation of family values. It stresses the importance of parenting and what happens when you don’t have that," continued Gooding. "I guess what I am saying is that, it all begins with the family. The mistakes that you make and choices that you make may determine the result of how your child turns out. It really takes a village to raise a family. I notice an absence of morality and responsibility these days. There’s a rebellion against values and the original traditions that structured this country. These days, parents are busy working and no longer discipline their children. So, these kids have nothing to fear. Kids know their parents are catering to them out of guilt because they are unable to spend quality time with them."

Except for "Everybody Plays the Fool," Gooding wrote all of the lyrics on his new CD. "I have 10 songs on my album instead of 17. I decided to move away from doing the 17 songs, hoping that one may be a hit. Instead, I did 10, hoping they will all be hits. I hope that today’s youth listen to this CD and come away feeling that there are people that care about them," says Cuba.

Gooding, Sr., is also an actor. He appeared in the motion picture "Children of the Struggle," and was featured in "Gedo." On stage, he performed in "Stop Cheatin’ on God’s Time," "A Fool for Love" and "Be Careful What You Pray For." Gooding has worked with people such as: John Denver, The Jacksons, Vicki Carr, Gladys Knight, Lou Rawls, Dionne Warwick and Earth, Wind and Fire. He has made guest appearances on The Johnny Carson Show; Soul Train; The Arsenio Hall Show; Good Morning America; CBS This Morning and the NBC Summer Concert Series. The cities of San Francisco, Las Vegas, Detroit and Orlando paid tribute to Gooding by honoring him with "Cuba Gooding, Sr., Day."

Gooding’s oldest son, Thomas, is his music director and band leader. "Thomas has given me 8 grandchildren," said Gooding with pride. "Thomas is also an entrepreneur. My youngest son, Omar Gooding, is an actor. He appeared in ‘Hanging with Mr. Cooper,’

‘Smart Guy,’ ‘Baby Boy,’ and recently starred in that football series on ESPN ‘Playmakers.’ Omar is an accomplished actor. I am proud of all my children. I would like to see Omar and Cuba, Jr., work on a project together. Cuba is an excellent actor. Their inability to work together is not from their lack of wanting to, it’s just that sometimes the industry frowns on nepotism, maybe because it creates too much power. There are exceptions, like the Michael Douglas family of course. The same thing happened with the Main Ingredients, my singing group. They separated us so that we would sign individual contracts and now they still owe us royalties from as far back as 1970. As we speak, the Bertelsmann's Music Group (BMG) owes the Main Ingredients millions of dollars and I haven’t seen a check yet. All of those songs that they play by the Main Ingredients, we have yet to be paid for. It is my hope that now the Gooding family will stand united, including my daughter, April, who is a comedian, to fight this thing together. Family is the only thing you can count on in order to protect one another. I know now, if you are going to be in the record business, try to own as much as you can. The system is set up where even that artist who is being robbed of his or her royalty rate cannot make a deal unless they have a manager. The manager will not negotiate unless you have a lawyer. You cannot promote your music unless you have a record company. You cannot work on the stage unless you have an agent. So by the time the artist feeds 5 other families, the artist is lucky if they get 50% of the 6 pennies left they are earning to sell the records in the first place. I am promoting my new CD through Irie Records which I co-own," remarked Gooding.

Gooding is starring with Michael Jackson’s father in a Paul DeAngelo produced and directed feature film, entitled: "Destination Fame." The film is expected to be out April 27, 2005. Gooding’s new CD, "Begin with the Family" will be in stores on September 21st. Interested parties can order his CD on line at

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