Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. have enjoyed success as recording artists, performers, actors and authors. They have received seven Grammy Awards and numerous gold and platinum records. Their honors include induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as starring roles on stage and television.
Dec. 14, the couple is to perform “A Holiday Celebration” at 7:30 p.m. at The Ritz Theatre.
Many fans know them from their more than 10 years as the lead singers of the 5th Dimension. With that group, they recorded such classics as “Up, Up & Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Last Night (I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All)” and other hits in the 1960s and 1970s.
In a phone interview, McCoo and Davis said they plan to leave their home in Los Angeles Dec. 13 and head east for some holiday concerts. McCoo said they will fly into Toledo for The Ritz performance. From there, they will drive to Pennsylvania and then fly to St. Louis for a couple more December shows.
Although Davis expressed concern about possible wintry weather, they won’t let it stop them.
“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.
McCoo added they have allowed plenty of time in between shows so they will not miss any of them. The St. Louis shows will bring Davis back to his hometown. He grew up there, singing in the church choir and later with a gospel group. In 1965, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a record contract with Motown.
Marilyn was born in New Jersey but went to L.A. with her family at age 7. As an adult, she was singing with a jazz group who already knew Davis.
“Three of the people in that group were from St. Louis,” she said.
The pair landed in the Fifth Dimension, which launched them into successful show business careers. Davis said they established their friendship performing together, and it developed into romance after about two years.
They are celebrating their 44th wedding anniversary this year. For their 40th anniversary, they released “The Many Phases of Love,” featuring their favorite love songs from the past. They credit their Christian faith for preserving their marriage and sustaining them through difficult times.
“We wonder how people get along without it,” McCoo said. “We need God to guide our path.”
“First, they’ve got to know he exists,” Davis said.
Biographical information about McCoo says she accepted Christ in 1980. Although Davis had been raised as a Christian, he had drifted away from the church to pursue his career. He came back to his faith in 1981.
The couple’s open expression of devotion and charitable work earned them the 2013 Ambassador’s Award from Media Fellowship International. They also have performed numerous concerts for causes near to their hearts, including the United Negro College Fund and Children’s Miracle Network.
“I am on the board for the L.A. Mission,” McCoo said. “We have a heart to help the homeless and children in need, whose families are without the finances to meet those needs.”
“We also formed a group, Soldiers for the Second Coming. We do ministry there,” Davis said of the evangelistic organization.
Christmas is an important celebration for Christians and the couple’s show pays tribute to its true meaning; however, fans can still expect to hear the hits the couple made famous.
“The first half of the show will be many of our chart-toppers, as well as the music that has made up our 40-plus year careers,” Davis said in a press release.
The second half of the show will be a celebration of the holidays with traditional and contemporary holiday songs to entertain young and old. This is the first time the duo has toured with their own holiday show. They plan to include songs about the birth of Christ.
“The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year means different things to all of us. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, because it represents the spirit of sharing, families getting together and reflecting on the true meaning of the various holidays. But, it can get a little hectic,” McCoo said. “We intend to bring a festive musical break for all those who attend.”
In addition to touring, the couple recently produced and released a live CD, “Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Live.”
“We were working at this place and we really liked the show. So we said, ‘OK, let’s record it and see what happens,'” McCoo said.
In addition to the success they’ve had together, McCoo and Davis also have enjoyed solo pursuits, including stage roles. Davis had starring roles in “Blues in the Night” in San Diego and in the hit musical “Dreamgirls” in North Carolina. McCoo starred in regional productions of “Anything Goes” and “Man of LaMancha” and took her talents to the Broadway stage to appear as Julie in a revival of “Show Boat.”
“It was an exciting experience. We did five months in New York and then about nine months in Chicago,” McCoo said.
Tickets run $20-$50. For tickets and information, stop at the box office, 30 S. Washington St., visit www.ritztheatre.org or call (419) 448-8544.