Dayton: World’s funk music capitol

DAYTON — Dayton isn’t only the birthplace of aviation, but is also widely known as the world’s funk music capitol.

Dayton is well connected to all the funk groups of the ‘70s and ‘90s. Music group Zapp isn’t only known for producing hits, but also for its lasting impact on the black community.

The recording studio “Troutman Sound Labs” stood at the intersection of Salem and Catalpa from 1983 until 1999. It was the foundation to Dayton Funk Group, Zapp, and is now a historical landmark to millions nation-wide remembering the family-based music group that forever changed the music game.

Zapp quickly became a household name in the ‘70s and ‘80s for their flashy wardrobe and unique electronic vocalization coming from the band’s lead singer Rodger Troutman.

“Five o’clock, instead of going home - I would go into the studio with Roger and his brothers because their studio was right on Salem Avenue and I would be able to listen to the music being produced and give them my ear from a radio standpoint,” said Dr. John “Turk” Logan, former Funk DJ.

Logan said the group’s talent was undeniable, and he played their music at a time when it was harder for black artists to get air time.

While most of the world knew Zapp for the music, Larry Troutman’s daughter, Ari DeVine, knew her father as a humble man keen on instilling values in his kids.

“I don’t remember the glamour of their lives. I don’t remember that. I kind of remember my uncles being dressed up in sparkly suits, which is to this day still hilarious … but we only go to see the hard work part,” DeVine said.

Outside of the Troutman’s studio in 1999, family tragedy would strike.

Larry started fighting with his brother Roger over money and the group’s direction, eventually shoot and killing his brother, and then killing himself, DeVine said.

“My father and my uncle’s death that everybody knows about was so entirely tragic. One of the things I had to take away from that was - what if you were judged on the worse thing you did in your life and not the best,” DeVine said

She said her family has used that moment to move forward in the spirit of family healing.

“We had to rebuild their legacy because there wasn’t the proper grounding and spirit in God as we the children understand it needed to be. We are the new Troutman. We are the legacy. My cousins, my sisters, my sisters my brothers - we all have a piece of this work,” she said.

Terry’s 29-year-old son Thomas Troutman operates his own music label and performs around the world, meeting celebrities like his dad, aunt and uncles did for so many years.

When not touring, Thomas Troutman works with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. He said it’s one of the many ways he said he’s staying grounded and true to his roots, which all started through Zapp.

“One of the biggest things that I have learned from the legacy of the Troutmans is to give back to the community and to stay here,” he said.

“They left us all the gems to fill the shoes and do it 10 times better and what I will tell you is that when these Troutmans on this earth leave. We will leave with generational wealth because they left us with jewels,” DeVine said.

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