Earth, Wind & Fire vs. The Isley Brothers next up in Verzuz battle

Two of funk/R&B’s finest are set to meet in what could be one of the most anticipated Verzuz battles to date.

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Vinyl records of The Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times

Two legendary bands are offering their fans a chance to twist and shout to the grooves of funk and R&B on Sunday.

A Verzuz battle between Earth, Wind & Fire and The Isley Brothers is slated for 7 p.m. Easter Sunday via Instagram and the Triller app.

The news bringing the groups together was announced in the aftermath of the last Verzuz battle between Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface and Raekwon. 

Earlier this week, the music curation website created by producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, tabbed comedian and perennial presenter Steve Harvey to host the show, while DJ D-Nice will provide the music. 

Earth, Wind & Fire, a group with Chicago ties, is known for hit records “September,” “Shining Star,” “Let’s Groove” and “Boogie Wonderland,” among many others, along with winning multiple awards, and enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

The Isley Brothers’ hit music spans several decades including “Twist & Shout,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Between the Sheets,” “That Lady” and “For the Love of You.” Lead singer Ronald Isley later rebranded himself as “Mr. Biggs,” exposing his music to newer audiences via standout tracks such as “Contagious.”

Due to the groups’ extensive catalogs, the Easter Sunday show shapes up to be one of Verzuz’s most anticipated battles to date.

Both groups have loyal — and fierce — followings as country singer Taylor Swift discovered in 2018 when she released a cover of “September,” one of EW&F’s most well-known songs. 

Alan Floyd, the CEO of Maddsoul, who was the head of Global Touring Operations for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “On The Run II Tour,” says his prediction of a winner won’t be judged in absolutes. 

“When asked who’s going to win, it’s Black people,” Floyd says. “I think it’s a ‘winner’ that we are re-educating ourselves as to what good music really is. … White people go support the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones for as long until all of them die, right? Earth, Wind & Fire and The Isley Brothers are our versions of that. 

“Earth, Wind & Fire — just in a name — is telling you about yourself and the elements, right? All of that has a message for our people, right from the artwork, to the songs — there was always a message for the people.”

Upcoming Verzuz battles will include a “4/20” event featuring Method Man and Redman, and in May, R&B groups SWV and Xscape will face off in a special Mother’s Day edition.

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