Family Connection

In Waterbury, Connecticut's North End neighborhood, the relatives behind Family Connection were separated by just a few blocks but intertwined by music. The group tied together brother pairs Ron and James Maia, Robbie and James Minnis, Lenny and Wilkes Butler, Jeffrey and Ricky Graham, and cousins Tony Smith and Carnegie Clapp. In 1969, they met one-time Five Satin's manager and then furniture salesman Sam Goldman, who brought them to Bridgeport's Complex IV studio to record their 1971 originals "This Time" b/w "Lost Her Love" for their own Jabali label. The haunting single topped local charts and landed the group opening slots for Funkadelic, the Manhattans, and Roberta Flack. After releases on Buddah, Sigma, and Rufus, bookings tapered with the rise of the DJ, but there were no hard feelings. "We were one big family," said John Maia. "If we had a dollar, it was gonna be split into pennies."

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