The Detroit Emeralds are an R&B/soul vocal group founded in 1966 in Detroit, Michigan, by two brothers and a childhood friend. They were, however, originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. Ivory Tilmon (born September 14, 1941), composer/lyricist Abrim Tilmon (born January 12, 1945), and Lead Singer James Mitchell Jr. (born May 27, 1949) were the members from Perry, Florida. He wrote all of the group’s hits.
The group’s first hit was “Show Time” for the Ric-Tic label in 1968. (which became a part of Motown Records). It hit number 22 on the R&B chart and number 89 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1970, they released the singles “If I Lose Your Love” from the album Do Me Right, which peaked at number 32 on the R&B chart, and “I Can’t See Myself Doing Without You/Just Now and Then,” which peaked at number 41 on the R&B chart.
The Detroit Emeralds released two singles from their album Do Me Right for the Janus label in 1971. They were “Do Me Right,” which peaked at No. 7 on the R&B chart and No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over 500,000 copies, and “Wear This Ring (With Love),” which peaked at No. 18 on the R&B chart and No. 91 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Their 1973 album I’m in Love with You yielded two single hits: “You’re Gettin’ a Little Too Smart,” which reached no. 10 on the R&B chart and no. 101 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “I Think of You,” which reached no. 27 on the UK chart. “Lee,” from their 1973 album Abe, James, and Ivory, peaked at number 79 on the R&B chart.
Despite their success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Detroit Emeralds disbanded in 1974, when Tilmon formed a new singing group under the original name and Mitchell began writing music for the R&B vocal group, the Floaters.
The reorganized Detroit Emeralds brought the decade to a close with hits from two albums for the Westbound label, Feel the Need (1977) and Let’s Get Together (1978). Both albums included the disco hit “Feel the Need,” which peaked at no. 12 on the UK chart, no. 14 on the US Dance (Disco) chart, no. 73 R&B, and no. 90 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Let’s Get Together” reached number 11 on the Dance chart.
Abrim Tilmon died on July 6, 1982, in Southfield, Michigan at the age of 37; Ivory Tilmon died on September 13, 2014. He was 73.