Yes, of course, Frank Sinatra has a special place in South Philly's heart. See, for example, the Sinatra karaoke contest slated for this year's 9th Street Italian Festival.
Lesser known is the special place that the sound of Philadelphia International Records also has in South Philly's heart. (There's room. It's a big heart.)
Having grown up to the musical stylings of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, neighborhood kids who shook their groove thing with WDAS disc jockey AJ Kemp at Holy Spirit C.Y.O. dances now invite the Sound of Philadelphia to their weddings, where Philly International artists like the Intruders and McFadden & Whitehead are in heavy rotation alongside Ol' Blue Eyes.
Danny Vanore, a product of those C.Y.O. dances who now leads the South Philly wedding band The Business, says he'll often introduce the bridal party to the guests with McFadden & Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." "I start with that," Vanore said. "It's a good song.
" 'Together,' that's another big wedding song," he said. "That would be a song the bride and groom would dance to as their first dance."
"Another big song, in the middle of the night, is 'The Soul City Walk' by Archie Bell & the Drells," Vanore said. Wedding guests know to form two facing lines, then stroll soulfully down the lane. "Remember how they used to do it on 'Soul Train'? They'll do that."
The big Kleenex moment, rivaled only by the father-daughter dance to "Daddy's Little Girl," is the mother-son dance to "I'll Always Love My Mama" by the Intruders. Occasionally a South Philly mama will request it herself. More typically, Vanore said, "the son wants to do it for his mother."
Along with Sinatra and Italian standards, the Philly International sound will also be in heavy rotation during this year's Sorrento Cheese 9th Street Italian Market Festival, on May 19 and 20, with performances by some of the original artists and a presentation during opening ceremonies to honor Gamble and Huff. For festival details, go to www.9thstreetitalian