Kool & the Gang still knows how to party. In fact, the Grammy Award-winning group is preparing for its biggest party of all to date: its 60th anniversary in 2024. Following its April 13 performance on Good Morning America and the release of its latest single, “Let’s Party” featuring Sha Sha Jones, the R&B, soul and funk band is now announcing the arrival of its 34th studio album, People Just Wanna Have Fun.
Helmed by the group’s founding namesake Robert “Kool” Bell and original member George “Funky” Brown,” Kool & the Gang recorded a lively 15-track album that will arrive July 14 through Astana Music Inc, distributed by BFD/The Orchard. The set features some of the last studio work from the group’s stellar founding horn players: Kool’s brother Ronald “Khalis” Bell and Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, who passed away in 2020 and 2021, respectively. In addition to Sha Sha Jones, lead vocals on the album include Shawn McQuiller, Lavell Evans, Dominique Karan, Rick Marcel and Walt Anderson, plus rappers Ami Miller & Ole’.
People Just Wanna Have Fun is a fitting next chapter in the Kool & the Gang legacy. Founded in 1964, the band is behind a string of timeless hits that include “Celebration,” “Ladies Night,” “Get Down on It,” “Summer Madness” and “Hollywood Swinging.” A release announcing the new project also notes the group being “the most sampled R&B band of all time” by stars such as Madonna, Jay-Z, Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill and Diddy. Their music has also been featured on various film soundtracks including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction and Wreck-It Ralph.
“You’ve got the funk, the jazzier tracks; we have a few ballads on there,” said Bell in the release about the new album. “Then there are songs that cross over to a pop sort of thing. We go from the ‘70s, the ‘80s, right into now. It’s old school, it’s new school — we kinda captured it all here. With all our music over the years, people have had fun. So I’d say this album just about sums it all up.”
Kool & the Gang are also hitting the road this summer on the Kool and the Gang Rock the World Tour. Sponsored by Bell’s own Le Kool Champagne, the tour kicks off May 5-6 in Las Vegas, and wraps in Saratoga, Calif., on Sept. 24. Stops along the way include London (June 1), Cambridge, Great Britain (June 11), Plovdiv, Bulgaria (June 12) and Los Angeles (July 14-15). More tour information is available on the group’s website.