El and Chico DeBarge Love Fans in A Special Way at BAL Theater



Brothers and R& B crooners El and Chico DeBarge shared the stage at the historic BAL Theatre in San Leandro on Friday night performing to a full house with familiar songs of the 80’s, including “All This Love”, “Love Me in a Special Way”, and “Rhythm of the Night”.


El, known for his signature falsetto, didn’t disappoint while also playing the keyboard with Shaun Bivens on guitar, Carlos Cuellar on bass, William “Woo Baby” Woodley on drums, and Mark Green on keyboard.


Chico wowed the audience with his velvety rendition of lyrics while dancing onstage. Some lucky ladies even received roses and birthday shout outs during the performance.


Backstage El, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, said he never wants to let his fans down.


“Our fans mean a lot to us and it’s great to be in the Bay Area,” he said. El added that he feels a responsibility for his family and loves working with Chico. “We understand each other and have such a bond. We also share the same passion for people.”


For Chico, performing with his brother is “magical.”


“Working with him reminds me of virtues that may have been forgotten and encourages me to keep my head up,” said Chico.


“It’s our dream to bring cohesiveness to the family,” he said revealing a tattoo of his brother on his leg. “We did well together in 2004 when we did ‘Long Time No See’ and we are hoping for the same success. We bring out the best in each other,” Chico said.


The success of older brothers Bobby and Tommy DeBarge with the hit group Switch gave El the opportunity to perform before Motown CEO Berry Gordy. Gordy immediately signed the group, then known as The DeBarges, in 1980. A year later, “The DeBarges” was released with songs produced and written by all family members, including the now deceased Bobby DeBarge.


The DeBarge family continued to dominate the 80’s with “All This Love” in 1982, featuring “I Like It” and the title track. El would remain producer and arranger for all of the group’s Motown albums.


In 1983, DeBarge released “In a Special Way” featuring hits “Time Will Reveal” and “Love Me in a Special Way”. In 1984 the band toured with Luther Vandross on his Busy Body tour.


In spite of their success, tensions grew within the family as Motown pushed to make El the star of the group. By the end of the tour, El was called to produce DeBarge’s next album, “Rhythm of the Night”, the group’s best-selling album ever.


Earlier this month, El performed at the 56th Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards. On the horizon, El said he hopes to perform for the big screen and is currently working on a Christmas and R&B album.


Humbled by the challenges in his life and struggles the family has had with addiction, Chico said he’s learned to cherish all who have embraced him and his work “in this life and world.”


“Sometimes it was only the love of fans that have kept me and it’s wonderful. I want to continue that love,” said Chico.


Visit www.baltheatre.com for upcoming events.


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