Pieces of a Dream co-founder, “Fo Fi Fo” singer Cedric Napoleon dies

(June 18, 2024) He was one third of a group that helped introduce a tasty new combination of jazz and soul more than four decades ago, and that remains with us today. We are very sad to report the death of Pieces of a Dream co-founder Cedric Napoleon. His death was reported by Pieces of a Dream on the group’s social media.

Philadelphia native Napolean formed Pieces in the 1970s with friends Curtis Harmon (drummer) and James Lloyd (keyboards), and handled bass (both acoustic and electric) as well as lead vocals on the group’s early work. The teen group was popular in Philly, and became the house band for the local television show City Lights. But it was the interest in an mentoring of the trio by renowned sax man, Grover Washington, Jr., that really helped them take off. He signed Pieces to his new production company, and brought them into his tours.

With Washington’s help, Pieces of a Dream was signed to Elektra Records and issued three Washington-produced discs, Pieces of a Dream, We Are One, and Imagine This, that shot them right to the top of the contemporary jazz scene. They also had crossover hits, including the Napoleon-led smash “Fo Fi Fo” (in honor of the Philadelphia 76ers), which took Imagine This to the upper echelon of jazz, soul and pop charts.

Napoleon left the group in 1990, but remained friends with Harmon and Lloyd, who have continued recording and touring as Pieces of a Dream ever since. Napoleon remained an in-demand bassist, and worked with countless stars, ranging from Phyllis Hyman to Stevie Wonder, to The O’Jays, The Stylistics and Patti Labelle. It took a quarter century after leaving Pieces before he issued his solo debut album, Yesterday Today, in 2016. 

Cedric Napoleon went from child prodigy musician to simply great musician over the years, and he will be greatly missed.

By Chris Rizik

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