- Charles L. Hughes
musician and member of the Isley Brothers, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, one of six brothers in a musical family: father Kelly sang professionally and mother Sallye was a church pianist. Both parents often accompanied four of their sons (Vernon, Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Ronald, then barely a teenager), as they formed a musical group in the early 1950s. Called the Isley Brothers, the group would lead Ronald and his siblings on an enormously successful, five-decade-long journey through African American music.
Initially, the Isley Brothers sang gospel, with Vernon Isley handling the duties of lead vocalist. In 1955 Vernon died in a bicycling accident, and Ronald—who possessed a bright, clear tenor—became the group's lead singer from that day forward. In 1957 the Isleys recorded a string of doo-wop singles, none of which achieved much success. Signed to RCA Records in 1960 they recorded Shout a ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.