“Every show we put on we sell out,” said the effortlessly cool Earth, Wind and Fire bassist Verdine White ahead of his next London show – Proms in the Park.
The band will play to a crowd of 40,000 this September in Hyde Park as part of the BBC event; something they believe may not have been possible if young people didn’t have access to their music. “Without the internet we might have disappeared,” explained White. “It’s made the younger generation want to know about us.”
Earth, Wind and Fire’s cross-pollination of disco, funk and jazz has been sampled by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z and, it seems, they’ve managed to get young people interested in their sound. “We were in Michigan the other night, where we sold out 30,000 [tickets],” said White, “and it wasn’t just our generation in the crowd: there were 17-,18- and 19-year-old children there.”
Having released their first record in 1971, the band has watched technology change over four decades but say digital has opened up their music to different generations. “[On the internet] you can go back and see an amazing amount of history from the Rolling Stones to Paul McCartney,” explained White. “People can go back and see all the work you’ve done.”
Not only will Earth, Wind and Fire play Proms in the Park, their sellout shows have encouraged the band to release a new album. “Every show we put on we sell out,” said White. “We’re working on some new stuff at the moment. We’re trying to get it out straight away… the band is at a great stage, there’s a lot of love in the band and we’re really sounding good.”
After rehearsing at Abbey Road, Earth, Wind and Fire will play with a full orchestra during the Proms, harking back to tracks like After the Love has Gone, originally recorded with real strings and horns. “It’s a great honour to play The Proms,” said White. “We’re very excited. We’re looking forward to a great show, great music and a great time out there.”
This summer’s 58 days of Proms music will include 76 concerts, 50 radio stations, six orchestras and hundreds of hours of television, all rounded up by Terry Wogan presenting the finale on the last night of the event.
Earth, Wind and Fire play Proms in the Park on Saturday 13 September.