” …Graham Central Station. The group, led by Sly alumnus and ground-breaking funk bassist Larry Graham, not only racked up a string of chart topping funk fables but set the standard for live performances with its unique brand of foot-stomping, gospel tinged funk that blew the walls off of modern music. Though Graham was the front man and often received the majority of credit for the group’s spell-binding imaginative success, it was the accompanying bay area singers and musicians that defined the much copied Graham Central Sound.
Texas native and Funk Diva #1 Patryce “Choc’Let” Banks has released a luscious new memoir that chronicles one helluva ride aboard the Graham Central Station wagon. This soul-scorching, page-turning and often mind-boggling tale of how Patryce came to be the group’s greatest female vocal presence is chock full of truly jaw-dropping anecdotes on what life was like in the studio and on the road and behind the scenes with some of funk music’s biggest legends. This kaleidoscopic journey with Choc’Let takes one back in time thru a magical era of music and culture.
She tells it straight with no chaser. There were times when I had to actually put the book aside to gather my wits…In fact, I came completely apart and found myself shaking my head in disgust at Graham’s greed. The story is all too familiar. Frontman pockets millions while his band toiled for a measly weekly wage that bordered on poverty level….For fans of the group this may be a bitter pill to swallow. But once that pill gets in yo’ system all that glitters ain’t gold, especially in the behind-closed doors often clandestine business of pop music. Patryce recounts literally dozens of episodes throughout these pages and pens one of the most frank and accurate memoirs I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Choc’Let didn’t write the book with any bitterness and provides the reader with as straight-forward an account as I’ve ever sat down to. All the juicy tidbits are there for sure, and I could go on and on about those. Honestly, that is what initially drew me into the book, but as I read on what I found was a deep introspection, profound wisdom, respect for life and peeling self-analysis.
This deeply personal and profoundly moving story is at it’s root, about one woman’s challenges and struggles for self and professional respect in a predominantly male-controlled industry and society. It’s a veritable who’s who of black music in the 70s and beyond. From her collaborations with hard-working Stephanie Mills, wild times with Chaka Khan, backing vox for artists as diverse as BB King to NWA(the latter of which were completely spellbound by the presence of The Funk Goddess) & too many others to begin to mention, Patryce has come full circle.
She is now respected throughout the music world as one of the great innovators in the genre. Give the soul sista her heartbeat props for this brutally honest, light-hearted and at times gut-wrenching account of her experiences from inside the trenches of one of funk’s most powerhouse bands at the height of it’s creative and commercial powers. Get it, read it for yourself, you will be a better person for it.
Cincinnati, OH Funk Journalist~”Bustin'”Bob Mitchell