Renowned singer, songwriter and producer Kenny Gamble was born on August 11, 1943, in Philadelphia. Gamble is a two-time Grammy winner and his efforts have resulted in more than 170 platinum and gold albums and songs. His music career began as part of a band called the Romeos in the early 1960s. Gamble turned to songwriting and producing with fellow musician Leon Huff, whom he worked with for three decades. Gamble and Huff are known as the originators of the Philly Soul Sound, one of the most popular and influential music developments of the 1970s. Their hits include “Expressway to Your Heart,” “Only the Strong Survive,” “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train” and “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”
Many of the songs Gamble has written have themes of social change and empowerment, as he feels strongly about the dire need for changes in dying inner-city neighborhoods. In the 1970s, Gamble began to purchase rundown houses, beginning with his own childhood home, to improve conditions in blighted areas. By the early 1990s, he had purchased more than 100 abandoned homes, and he and his wife moved from the affluent suburbs back into the inner-city neighborhood in South Philadelphia where he had grown up to help rebuild the community.
Gamble founded the nonprofit Universal Companies to establish a workforce development center offering adult education and job training to anyone at any skill level; a construction company to provide training and jobs; a business support center; a charter school; and other entities aimed at empowering the inner city and its residents. He also founded a nonprofit community development corporation, Universal Community Homes, to provide low- and moderate-income families in Philadelphia with newly built or refurbished homes at affordable prices. The community revitalization programs Gamble has launched and nurtured have created hundreds of jobs and more than 120 homes have been constructed or renovated, along with more than 70,000 square feet of commercial space that has been developed to support local needs. Gamble has received various awards and honors for his work and dedication to the community.