Our Motown Heritage (Part 38)
The Gift
THE STORY OF GIFTVS

by Robert Dennis

In the mid 1990s there was a new developing rock band from Mid Michigan.  Originally formed with the name "The Gift," then "Giftvs," they had so much good music, they attracted the attention of  Edward Holland's A&R Assistant, Ron Dunbar and were offered a developing artist contract with HDH Records.

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Introduction

On May 17, 1998 rock legend Dick Wagner and I took the Gift into Downtown Digital Studios to make a demonstration recording of "Iíll Get High With You."  We were impressed with the group, their songwriting and this particular song.  We wound up liking the result and several more tunes were recorded.  Both of the producers thought that the group had "superstar" potential and I wound up mentoring the group.

Although the oldest band member (Jeremy) was merely 20, the group had been together for 7 years.  I felt that the band could possibly overcome the tradition of breaking up which always seems to plague bands and cause their demise.  Time may yet prove that I had good judgment in this matter.  Although the group did break up in 2001, they have re-formed and been again performing as Giftvs in local area rock clubs.  The group is composed of two brothers, Jeremy Lafferty (Guitar/Vocals) and Josh (Drums). Long time friend Kevin Calcaterra (Bass) rounds out the group.

1992

1997

1998

2006

The HDH Offer

In the late 1990's, The famous HDH writing team got an influx of capitol from their songwriting endeavors  that produced 50+ hit songs for the Motown and Invictus/Hot Wax Labels.  After more than a decade and a half of relative inactivity as a label producing current hit records,   Edward felt that the time was right to reestablish an independent record company and sought to launch a new HDH label.  Their previous label activity was primarily re-release of older masters. Several up and coming groups and even established artists were signed to the new label and production was started on a half-dozen projects for initial release.  The label began releasing product late 1998 and charted with releases by Ronnie Laws (Jazz artist), "4U" (an R&B group) and rapper "Flexx G".

Right in the middle of the label establishing itself, I told Edward Holland about "The Gift."  Edward was very enthused about the idea and wanted to hear product right away.  From day one, however, the group wasn't a perfect fit for the label.  The company was used to polished and established recording artists and Giftvs was a developing talent with lots of good material and raw potential.  Despite this fact, the group was offered a contract and a timetable was established for budgeting promotional funds for a Michigan release on the group. 

In Michigan, we geared up production on nine tunes that would eventually be released as a CD entitled "Sturgeon General's Warning." But as release time grew near, we were informed of delays in the funding as the company needed to gather resources to make sure other artists got the kind of support needed to realize their potential.

Finally, realizing that at least a half year delay would be necessary for HDH to get behind the group like I wanted, I killed the deal, in favor of putting out the product ourselves, even without a proper promotional budget.  The release got regular airplay at a mid-Michigan rock station and had noticeable sales through stores and good sales at personal appearances.  But without the national label name and an adequate promotional budget, the release only generated about 1/3 of the sales numbers that would have made it an attractive venture for a national label.

Production was started and almost completed on a full-length follow up release on the artist, but stress between members resulted in a break-up of the group before the release could be accomplished.

The Now

I've been to two recent performances of the re-formed group and they are putting on killer shows like I knew they eventually would when we started production 8 years ago.  The group is back in the studio producing new cuts and, in my opinion will be a "new sensation" in the Motown scene shortly.

Visit the MySpace page for Givtvs
 

 

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