I have been a fan of Free and Bad Company since way back at Skateland. So when singer Paul Rodgers cut a record at Royal Studios and announced that he was dedicating his proceeds to music education in Memphis, I flipped my lid. Then I found out he was coming to town Saturday to sign copies of The Royal Sessions and perform at the Stax Museum. I don't even know where my lid is anymore.
Rodgers' solid voice sits comfortably in its range. He's never resorted to the shrieking-banshee stuff that cost Robert Plant some cool points. Rodgers knows where his voice belongs. That makes for an interesting contrast when he approaches the work of Otis Redding, who really knew how to push his voice. Rodgers' voice doesn't really break. But it works.
When I heard about the charitable concept of the record, I had to wonder if Rodgers was having some kind Ikiru moment. His donation of procceds from The Royal Sessions is a wonderful gesture to the people whose music formed the basis of his success. It's great to see a celebrity so mindful of where he came from, even if that place is a world away from Rodgers' birthplace in Middlesbrough, England.
The Brits heard Southern, African-American music for what it was, and they made great art emulating the sounds of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. The Stones, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin form a hybrid rose grown from Memphis' musical stem. With The Royal Sessions, Rodgers has lovingly acknowledged his musical roots.
Come to the Stax Museum on Saturday to support music education in Memphis. You'll meet and hear a genuine superstar who can still do his thing.
Paul Rodgers' CD Release Party for The Royal Sessions is at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Saturday, February 15th, 6-8 p.m. Admission is $10 or free with the purchase of The Royal Sessions CD.