Sylvester’s “Mighty Real” Listening Party Thursday Evening at FeeLit

Sylvester’s “Mighty Real” Listening Party Thursday Evening at FeeLit

FeeLit, in San Diego’s East Village, celebrates the release of Sylvester’s greatest dance hits compilation, Mighty Real, aptly named after the record he became most famous for. And since Sylvester willed the future royalties from his catalog to San Francisco’s AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Open Hand, proceeds from the re-released Greatest Hits album will benefit the two organizations.

FeeLit is the exclusive San Diego County host for the listening event taking place all over the world on July 18. In order to properly commemorate the artist and release, store owner Markalan is throwing a free listening party from 7-8pm, complete with giveaways including limited vinyls and CDs, Sylvester prizes, and a pair of DJ headphones!


Twenty-five years after his untimely death, the iconic legacy of Sylvester, the “Queen of Disco,” will be resurrected with Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits, on Fantasy Records. This collection will celebrate the life and music of the artist who once danced his way into the hearts and minds of the disco and LGBT communities.

A quarter of a century after his passing, Sylvester will make a fabulous debut back into a prolific time in the LGBT community just the way he would have liked it – through dance music. This 11-track release, available on CD and on double pink vinyl, will feature a number of original album tracks and 12” mixes that are rare or no longer available on CD, as well as the brand new remix of the iconic “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Grammy-nominated remixer and DJ, Ralphi Rosario (Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Madonna, etc.).

To listen to the new Ralphi Rosario Dub remix of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” click here

As a dear friend of Harvey Milk and an icon to the LGBT community, Sylvester has long held a special place in music and socio-political history. Sylvester was not only one of the first disco stars to stand openly gay, but bravely crossed beyond the boundaries of race, gender and sexuality to become a proud figure of the gay liberation movement.

“Sylvester James was an unlikely star: an androgynous, cross-dressing, openly gay, African American, falsetto-singing, unapologetically flaming man-diva influenced primarily by church women, black blues singers, drag queens, hippies and homos,” said liner notes writer Joshua Gamson. “Like very few before him, and quite a few after, Sylvester rode his marginality right into the mainstream.”

A Los Angeles local, Sylvester found his home in the vibrant subcultural scenes of San Francisco in the late sixties. As the community around him became devastated with AIDS, Sylvester’s music took on a sort of weary determination, becoming a call to live, to keep dancing and to keep loving.

Sylvester passed away twenty-five years ago on December 16, 1988 and upon his death, Sylvester bequeathed royalties from the sale of his music to benefit two charitable organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area: the AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Open Hand.
“Decades later, even as strides have been made in the fight against the disease that has taken so many lives, Sylvester’s music lives on, a call to be fabulous against the odds,” said Joshua Gamson.

Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits was produced by Tom Cartwright and Chris Clough on Fantasy Records with liner notes written by Joshua Gamson, author of The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, The Music, The Seventies in San Francisco.

Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits will be available across two different formats:
The Single CD edition features 10 previously issued Sylvester tracks plus the brand new dub remix of “Mighty Real” by Ralphi Rosario.
The Double Pink Vinyl edition features all 11 tracks on two 12” pink vinyl LPs.
Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits will also be available digitally.

Sylvester’s ‘Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits’ Tracklist:

1. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) [Ralphi Rosario Dub Remix]
2. Dance (Disco Heat)
3. Stars
4. Can’t Stop Dancing
5. Changes
6. Over And Over
7. I Need Somebody to Love Tonight
8. Sell My Soul
9. I Need You
10. Body Strong
11. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

A portion of the proceeds from this compilation will go to:

The AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF), founded in 1982, was one of the nation’s first responders to the AIDS epidemic, helping AIDS patients live with dignity in their final days.  Thirty years Later, AEF is still providing annual housing and utility payment assistance to more than 2,000 people battling HIV/AIDS.  Sylvester’s bequest remains one of the few examples of a major artist donating their royalties to charity in perpetuity.  To this day, Sylvester’s thoughtful gesture provides tens of thousands of dollars each year to help low-income people with HIV/AIDS who have nowhere else to turn for help. For more information, visit
Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals with love to seniors and the critically ill. Every day, it prepares 2,500 nutritious meals and provides 400 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain our clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of old age. The organization serves San Francisco and Alameda Counties, engaging more than 125 volunteers every day to nourish our community. For more information, visit
Sylvester on the Web:


flamboyant. fearless. fabulous.
Before gender-bending pop musicians like Prince, Boy George, Annie Lenox, Madonna, RuPaul, or Lady Gaga made their mark, there was iconic dance music sensation SYLVESTER.

A musical force-of-nature famous for his soaring falsetto and flamboyant image, Sylvester rocketed to #1 on the pop charts in 1978 with the irresistible dance-floor anthem “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real”—a song that music journalist Robert Christgau once called “one of those surges of sustained, stylized energy that is disco’s great gift to pop music.”

But Sylvester —born Sylvester James in late 1940s Los Angeles —staged a fourteen-year professional career that was much more complex than that singular disco classic alone.
A superb musician, songwriter and producer, Sylvester made sophisticated music that spanned styles and genres like gospel, blues, R&B, glam, rock, and jazz. Over the course of his career, he racked up 24 Top 40 singles on Billboard’s combined Dance, R&B, and Pop Charts, including favorites like “Dance Disco Heat,” “Do You Wanna Funk” and “Someone Like You.”
Sylvester won many of the industry’s top honors, and in 1979, Billboard honored Sylvester as Disco Artist of the Year—an award that takes on special significance when you consider that it was presented during the height of disco’s mainstream popularity. Famed for his mesmerizing live shows, he packed clubs and stadiums worldwide, from New York’s Madison Square Garden to London’s Hammersmith Odeon. In March 1979, at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, Sylvester performed a memorable show that was later immortalized on his hit Living Proof live double album set and still stands as a testament to his galvanizing on-stage prowess.
In the early 1970s Sylvester fronted his own group, Sylvester and the Hot Band, performing bluesy soul and rock on two consecutive albums for Blue Thumb Records. By 1977 he signed to Fantasy Records and brought two plus-size background singers with heavenly voices on board: Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes of Two Tons o’ Fun.
That same year, Sylvester’s eponymous debut became an underground sleeper. But it was 1978’s Step II that produced the monstrous hit “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real”—it was the perfect showcase for Sylvester’s spine-tingling gospel scream and keyboardist Patrick Cowley’s innovative, arpeggiating synthesizers. After three more Fantasy Records albums, Sylvester signed to Megatone Records where he and Patrick Cowley again collaborated on the massive 1982 club anthem “Do You Wanna Funk,” a high-adrenalin stomper that inaugurated the hi-NRG sound and paved the way for future electro-pop. After a final release for Warner Brothers, Sylvester’s life was tragically cut short in 1988 when he passed away from AIDS at age forty-one.
In simply refusing to be anything other his authentic self, Sylvester helped mainstream gay culture and identity long before celebrated artists like K.D. Lang and Melissa Etheridge came out of the closet. By 1971, Sylvester had moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco and joined the mind-blowing drag-hippie troupe, The Cockettes. In the Bay Area, he embraced the gay-liberation movement and headlined queer events. Throughout the years, Sylvester’s annual performances at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade would become the stuff of legend.

By the late 1970s, Sylvester was arguably the first openly gay artist in disco music and he was one of the first and only openly gay artists in all of R&B, long before artists like Frank Ocean made headlines doing the same. Even today, at the time of this writing, there are few openly gay recording artists with mainstream careers. Yet in his heyday, Sylvester appeared on popular programs like American Bandstand, Soul Train, The Merv Griffin Show, Dinah Shore and BBC’s Top of the Pops. Dressed in drag, Sylvester was also unabashedly feminine, although totally comfortable in his masculinity. He refused to alter his androgynous image, even though he knew it made him less marketable to the masses. Subversive, sassy and irreverent, he was truly a magnanimous personality.

Sylvester was also a trailblazer in areas beyond sexuality. In 1982, he was one of the first black artists to have a video played on MTV. He was Joan Rivers’ headline act on The Tonight Show’s New Year’s Eve special in 1986. And by the late 1980s, Sylvester was a galvanizing figure in the movement for tolerance and compassion for those living with AIDS. At a time when disclosure of the disease was still taboo, he courageously revealed his condition by being pushed down Market Street in a wheel chair at San Francisco’s Gay Pride Day. He spoke openly about his condition to the press before figures like Magic Johnson and Arthur Ashe did the same.

Twenty-five years after his passing, Sylvester is still adored by legions of his worldwide fans, and the appeal of his music remains fresh. In 2004, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. That same year, Sylvester’s extraordinary life and music became the focus of “Sylvester: The Life and Work of a Musical Icon,” a well-attended two-day conference at New York University’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, featuring panel discussions, film screenings and concerts. In September 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his unprecedented achievements and Joshua Gamson’s authorized biography The Fabulous Sylvester was published to critical acclaim. Sylvester was also featured as a character in Gus Van Sant’s 2009 Oscar-winning drama Milk. The subject of a popular 2011 episode of TV One’s “Unsung” R&B documentary series, Sylvester is regularly cited as an inspiration by today’s queer and queer-friendly pop recording stars like Lady Gaga and Sam Sparro.
Sylvester is, arguably, the preeminent African-American gay entertainment icon of the 20th century. His life was a testimony that it is up to each of us, regardless of our sexual orientation or color, to live an authentic life: to be ourselves in the face of stigmas and shame, and to live honestly and openly about who we are. Indeed, more people around the world – gay, straight, black, white and beyond – should know the impressive and inspirational life story and musical legacy of this trailblazing artist and cultural hero.
— Dr. Jason King, The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, New York University, 2013.

Markalan - Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Markalan moved to Pacific Beach in 1994. During his first four years in San Diego, he worked as a photographer for the United States Navy. Over the past decade, he's been behind the bar or turntables in many of San Diego's nightclubs, and venues. He's shared his musical selections with Southern & Baja California, and the Mayan Riviera. During these years, he could be found exchanging his time for vinyl at Groove Records and Siesta Records. 

He often worked for trade, to support his vinyl addiction. He currently owns over 8,000 records. "Listening to my father's albums is when it all began. Flipping through the stacks, cleaning off the LP, placing the needle on the record, reading the lyrics, studying the artwork, and enjoying the rich analog sound. Sure, there are occasional pops & you might have to clean the record. You actually have to flip the record at the end of the side. It's not a play list or program on shuffle. You are present, involved, and engaged in the listening process. 
Please Keep Vinyl Alive & Support Local Artists!" 

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