From the Unity Band to James Brown, Cynthia "First Sister" Moore is a Buffalo legend

Oct 3, 2019

Thursday night marks the 37th Annual Buffalo Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony. One of the six inductees this year is singer Cynthia Moore, also known as “First Sister.” Moore performed throughout the '80s with Buffalo’s Unity Band. Ron Lasker, a Unity Band member who also traveled with James Brown, suggested Moore should audition for the “Godfather of Soul.” As she told WBFO’s Nick Lippa, that recommendation changed her life forever.

Cynthia "First Sister" Moore and Anthony Casuccio
Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

Moore took on many roles while she toured with Brown for over a decade, including being in charge of the Bittersweets, which was the name of his backup singers.

Moore explains how the name came to be while they were performing in a studio one day.

Moore also talked about working with Brown in his later years through some of his last shows.

LeRoi Callwell Johnson, Every Time I Die, Kenny Petersen, Jim Crean, and Nietzsche’s Joe Rubino round out this year’s class.

While musicians make up the majority of the group, BMHoF President Anthony Casuccio said it’s also important to recognize the major figures behind the stage.

“You have someone like Joe Rubino. If you look at someone like someone like Ani DiFranco, Tom Stahl and The Dangerfields, all these people who have come through his establishment who have gone on to these bigger and better things and done a lot. We take that in to consideration. He’s not a performer, he’s a business owner, but he’s giving back to the community,” he said.

Casuccio has worked with the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame for 14 years, the past six as the group’s president. He said over the years he’s seen changes, but the quality of inductees has remained the same.

“The main consistency with Buffalo is the people here. They’re amazing musicians. They can go anywhere and become first call musicians. The training, the battlegrounds here, the trenches that these people learn from prepare them to go anywhere else in the world and they can hold their own,” he said.

Moore will perform Thursday night alongside a few of the other inductees at Cardinal O’Hara Performing Arts Center in Tonawanda. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.