Piece of the Week: Funkytown


Many of us on the SmartMusic team have a special fondness for “Funkytown” because the piece is a hometown success story. Steve Greenberg was a local Minneapolis songwriter, and when he got a recording contract with disco powerhouse Casablanca Records he recruited a band of Minneapolis all-stars to record under the name Lipps Inc. This included lead vocalist Cynthia Johnson, who was an up-and-coming singer in the funk band Flyte Tyme with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; on guitar was David Rivkin, who would later rise to fame as an engineer for Prince. As these names suggest, Greenberg and Lipps Inc. helped to break the Minneapolis sound onto the national charts, paving the way for the flood of Minneapolis artists like Prince and The Time that followed.

This Alfred arrangement brings Greenberg’s Minneapolis funk classic into the easy concert band repertoire. Though you may remember this piece for its stripped-down synthesizer sound, you’ll love how it sounds with full wind & brass participation. With plenty of percussion, this piece captures the new-wave-funk energy of the original.

Click Here to read an interview with Steve Greenberg on the enduring legacy of “Funkytown.”

 Audio Sample

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Composition Notes

Composed by Steven Greenberg in 1980, “Funkytown” was recorded and performed by the studio band Lipps, Inc., featuring lead singer, Cynthia Johnson. It became a number one hit in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts. Since its debut, the song has re-appeared in countless movies, television programs, and commercials. “Keep me movin’, keeps me grovin’ with some energy…” “Funkytown!”

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If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at [email protected]. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

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