Kent Washburn was a producer at Motown for a few years in the 1970’s, his most respected work for the company being releases from Hi Inergy and Major Lance. However, it was another artist’s work who brought Kent to the attention of Motown, that person being Jamal Trice.
The story goes like this ……… Kent was working in St Louis with the likes of Charles Drain (RCA), the Hypnotics (Reprise), Otis Williams, the Love Set, Act III and more. Kent was basically the local "big shot" producer in the city because of the success he was having with the Hypnotics and Charles Drain. Anyway, one day this guy walked into the studio that Kent was working in, walked right up to him and said right out "I want you to cut a couple of tracks on me because I am going to go get a deal with Motown."
Well Kent had never heard of him before, but he was not about to turn down money (the guy was going to pay Kent to do the tracks). So Kent said cool and cut some tracks on the singer and he was just thrilled with them. Kent himself thought that they were OK but nothing much more than that.
The singer went off to LA and landed a deal with Motown on the strength of the tracks he took with him. Kent went about his business and really never gave it a second thought after that. He really didn't think the singer would land himself a contract and so that would be that. A few weeks went by and Kent got a call one night from Gwen Fuqua.
He immediately became nervous as he was cutting a track on Charles Drain that Harvey Fuqua had help write. Thinking that Gwen had found out about this, he said, "I'm so sorry, I have not requested a mechanical license on the song, "25 Miles" (which he eventually canned and never finished because it really didn't fit Charles’ style).
Gwen said "What are you talking about?" and he replied "Well, your name is Fuqua, so I figured you were calling about that song". She chuckled and said, "Oh... I used to be married to Fuqua and have kept his name because our child has that last name. Maybe we should start over .....". She then told him "My real name is Gwen Gordy,
I am Berry's sister. I heard the tracks you cut on Jamal Trice and want you to come to LA so I can meet you". Kent picked myself up off the floor and said OK. Gwen sent him a plane ticket, so he went to LA and was there for about a month at Motown’s expense (he was booked into a 5 star hotel and all his expenses were paid). So for a solid month he just hung out with "The Gordy's".
Gwen said that she wanted to sign him as an Exclusive Producer for Motown and proceeded to offer him a contract. In the meantime, she had also signed Jamal to a deal and Kent was set about cutting 8 more tracks on him. Jamal, unfortunately, didn’t prove to be what Motown wanted at that time so they just released the one single "If Love Is Not The Answer / Nothing Is Too Good (For You Baby)" Soul #35120; Nov 76) -- and then let him go.
A number of the tracks that Kent had cut on Jamal eventually ended up being used on Major Lance’s album project (I guess the backing tracks were utilized again with the Major’s lead vocals replacing Jamal's) and the rest (as they say) is history. He was soon working with Hi Inergy and the teaming were enjoying hits.
Kent has no idea what ever what actually became of the other tracks he cut on Jamal but I guess the master tapes for them are laying around in a Motown master tape store somewhere. One song that was definitely cut on Jamal was “Think About The Love We Had” (written by Jamal Trice & William Bickelhaupt) and this song was one of the ones that, featuring new lead vocals, appeared on the ‘Now Arriving’ LP by Major Lance (Soul; 1978 – the producers being Kent Washburn & William Bickelhaupt).
Kent tells me that Jamal was killed in a car accident on his way to Las Vegas in the early 80's. However in 1990, an indie label (Sabre) 12” release escaped onto the market: Jamal Trice – “Treat You Right”. I don’t know if this was by the same guy (or if it was actually an older recording) but there can’t have been too many singers going by that name. To take the story up to date, both "If Love Is Not The Answer" and “Nothing Is Too Good (For You Baby)" are now sought after by 45 collectors as both are fine dance cuts that still get club plays.