A Great Musical Family’s Story Emerges

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At long last, the story of the legendary DeBarge family is being told. Vibe magazine’s October issue features “Broken Dreams,” an outstanding look into the widely chronicled trials and tribulations of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-bred siblings.

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Michael A. Gonzales captures the meteoric rise of Switch and DeBarge through a series of candid interviews with many of the individuals who lived it, including Bunny DeBarge, family matriarch Etterlene DeBarge and Swtich member Gregory Williams. The saga behind the glowing smiles and gold records is indeed a tragic one, as tales of drug addiction, a father’s abuse and legal woes offer a vivid portrait of one of R&B’s most underrated outfits beyond glorious hit singles like “Time Will Reveal” and “Rhythm of the Night.”

The article is particularly timely given recent reports of El and Chico DeBarge’s
brushes with the law: El was recently arrested for domestic abuse and
Chico faces charges surrounding drugs and a large sum of cash being
found in his car. The incidents sent the black blogosphere into
overdrive with questions about what is happening with the talented clan.

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Despite
the family’s troubles, few can deny the potency of the DeBarge family
canon. Switch classics like “There’ll Never Be,” “I Call Your Name” and
“Love Over and Over Again” have aged like fine wine, while DeBarge’s
stamp on the hip-hop generation stands strong. Their third Gordy album,
the Grammy-nominated gold seller “In a Special Way” is one of the most
referenced LPs in hip-hop history, with “Stay With Me” and “A Dream”
providing the foundation for the remix of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “One
More Chance” and Tupac’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” respectively.

The
October issue of Vibe is on newsstands now. The magazine is also
featuring the story at its Web site in a four-part series. You can read
the first three parts at Vibe.com.

The Rise and Fall of the DeBarge Family:
[Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]

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