Heart and soul
‘I’M READY to rock.” Lee Fields is on the phone and he’s ready to talk about soul music.
“Soul music is about spirit, man. I look at the human being as two entities, one is the physical and what you see in the mirror. But the other is the spirit and this is what animates the body. It’s electricity, it’s what makes the body work.
“When I speak about soul, I speak about the animating force that is not of this earth, that’s for sure. When I sing, I’m being dictated by that force and it puts in the passion needed to drive that song and to transfer emotions to the listener. When you say that you’re really feeling what this guy is saying in the song, that’s soul music. It’s coming from that place, the right place.”
Lee has been coming from the right place all his life. Straight out of North Carolina. Debut record back in 1969 when retro-soul was soul the first time around. Decades of records and tours with OV Wright, Kool and the Gang, Little Royal and many more. The rebirth in the last few years with the fantastic My World album in 2009. A rebirth that still going strong with this year’s Faithful Man.
He can remember the first time he heard soul music. Back in the day, his home was the party gaff in the neighbourhood and the good times flowed every weekend.
“My daddy would turn the house into a little speakeasy at the weekend where people would come and hang out. Money was tight back then, jobs were hard to come by back then for a black man in North Carolina. The jobs he could get were barely enough for us to survive. That speakeasy was where I began to fall in love with the music.”
Fields heard and dug them all: Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and, of course, James Brown. “It was always blues and soul.” He learned that you would never go wrong with blues and soul.
The young Fields had no plans to become a singer. “First off, I wanted to be a soldier. When that didn’t happen, I was all about trying to accomplish something, trying to have something. When I started, I wasn’t planning on being a singer. I was more drawn to business activities.”
But Fields could sing. He had the voice, the poise and the panache. “I’d sing Solomon Burke and Sam Cooke songs when I was doing my paper round because I loved music. Because of the job situation my father was in, I wanted to have something I could hang onto. The elders would say ‘get your education and get a good job so you won’t have to be doing the drudgery forever’, that kind of thing, the kind of thing elders always say.”