“First Sister” Cynthia Moore, one of Buffalo’s best kept entertainment secrets, is an international singer who for fifteen years performed as the lead vocalist, along with Martha High, for the iconic James Brown.
Today she leads the James Brown Band (the JB’s) and performs all over the world singing the music of the legendary “Godfather of Soul.”
Cynthia began singing professionally at the age of nine years old for the Jerusalem Baptist Church at 465 Glenwood Avenue. She sang at churches in Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo under the leadership of Rev. Thompson. One of Cynthia’s early music teachers was Ms. Janet Burns.
She began to sing with several church bands, and most prominently was female vocal lead for the Unity Band shortly after its founding in 1983 until the 1990’s. At the time, Larry Salters was the M.C.,and Milton Sanders performed a James Brown set. The band was reluctant at first to add a female vocalist, but Cynthia’s skill and savvy transformed the band from a James Brown cover band to a wider variety of music and a succession of female vocalists.
They performed at M&T Summer concert series, appeared on stage at the Apollo Amateur Hour, and received publicity write-ups such as in the Challenger. Their expanded R&B and soulful sound secured their future, and led to their eventual induction into the 2003 class of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
Ron Lasker, who worked with the Unity Band when he wasn’t on the road with James Brown, connected with Cynthia and encouraged her to audition for Mr. Brown. Thomas Fluker sent in tapes of their James Brown set, along with their original song “The Heist” (published by Van Taylor). Cynthia recorded “All I Do,” written and produced by Van Taylor (due to be released in 2019 under Van Taylor Production) which she sent in as her audition.
When Brown went to prison, all plans seemed to be on hold.
However, in 1991, after Brown was released, Cynthia, along with Thomas Fluker and Lisa Rushton, went to Augusta, GA and auditioned for Brown. They were hired on the spot. Cynthia became one of the “Bittersweet” singers, performing with Mr. Brown from 1991 until 2006.
While Brown kept a close rein on those in his employ, refusing them individual credits on albums, often not even informing them of whether their next show was for charity or for nobles (or both), Cynthia was nonetheless featured several times as vocalist while James conducted or played piano. During her time as Brown’s main vocalist, she earned a long history of accomplishments. (James Brown did not list individual artists on these albums. As a general practice he did not want his musicians associating with other groups or doing anything which might put him at risk of losing any band member.)
Some of the songs Cynthia recorded and soloed on did not make it to the albums, including the songs “Candy” and “Love Machine,” and her original audition song, “All I Do” which was licensed for an album but never released. Cynthia continues to seek permission to release these songs from the James Brown archives. “All I Do” is scheduled to be released as a single under Van Taylor Production in 2019.
James named her “First Sister” and it is with that name that she now leads the James Brown band. Cynthia has also been a part of the James Brown workshops which have offered free classes to young people interested in engaging with the music of James Brown.
The James Brown Band is being managed by Howie Greene, who managed Brown for several years before his death. Cynthia has been involved in small projects in Buffalo with current and upcoming artists.
“First Sister” Cynthia Moore joins a host talented artists and performers to come out of Buffalo and make their mark in the music industry!