Like every touring musician, Kenny Vance had to postpone his spring tour in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But the Boynton Beach-based pop singer, songwriter and producer, famous for his years with Jay and the Americans, has been using his quarantine for creative and charitable means. Last week, he released a new song, recorded with his ace vocal group the Planotones, that honors the pandemic’s first responders.
With its mellow dance grooves and doo-wop punctuation, “Brave Companions” is lyrically in step with the zeitgeist but universal enough to apply to any future crisis: Vance praises the heroes whose names we’ll never know, looks to children to guide our course, and stresses unity over division.
Though Vance still tours with a newer group of Planotones, “Brave Companions” finds Vance recording with his original Planotones mates—Joe Esposito, Eddie Hokenson and Bruce Sudano, and special guest Vini Poncia—who reunited for this tune alone. It marks Vance’s first release since his full-length CD For Your Love earlier this year, and it stands apart from that disc’s re-imagined discoveries from the early vocal-group era. All proceeds of mp3 sales of “Brave Companions,” which can be downloaded from iTunes, Google Play Music and other providers, will be donated to the First Responders Children’s Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which assists first responders experiencing financial hardship.
Jillian Crane, president of the association, said in a press release, “First Responders Children’s Foundation would like to thank Kenny Vance and The Planotones, and all the people and companies that have supported the Foundation and donated to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. We have experienced genuine caring and generosity from people across this country as we come together to help first responders in a time when they need us most.”
A member of two music halls of fame, Vance opened for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on their first U.S. performances as a member of Jay and the Americans, and went on to enjoy a lucrative career behind the scenes—and even as an actor—following that group’s dissolution. He moved to Boynton Beach after he lost his home in Queens to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
For more on Vance’s rich rock ‘n’ roll life, look out for our profile in the July/August issue of Boca magazine.