OKP TV: Watch Bill Withers Speaks w/ Aloe Blacc On Elvis, The Bible + More In A Rare Public Talk For ASCAP Expo 2015

Okayplayers know that the only thing rarer than a Bill Withers interview is a Bill Withers public appearance (and the only thing rarer than rare is an album of new Bill Withers songs. Maybe if we all close our eyes at the same time and wish really, really hard…). Which is why we were shocked and delighted to learn that the iconic singer-songwriter of the soul generation would not only be attending ASCAP’s 10th Annual ‘I Create Music’ EXPO in Los Angeles this spring, but would join Aloe Blacc onstage for a public conversation about his life and work. Shock and delight ascended to near-panic attack levels of ecstasy when we determined (after a few, ahem, inquiries) that OKP TV’s cameras would be allowed to film the conversation for posterity.

Today we are extremely proud to debut the fruits of that musical chat-for-the-ages in conjunction with ASCAP as they announce the dates and details for the 11th Annual ASCAP EXPO, taking place April 28th-30th 2016 in L.A. If you’re not hip to the music game, ASCAP stands for the American Society Of Composers, Authors & Publishers and the ASCAP EXPO is the pretty much the premier conference, not only for songwriters and composers but also artists and producers in all genres of music. Featuring creative and business-focused panels, workshops, master classes, keynotes, one-on-one sessions, networking events, state-of-the-art technology demonstrations and performances, the ASCAP EXPO is open to anybody–and anybody in the field of music can benefit from the knowledge shared therein (registration begins on October 30th).

Previous master sessions, performances and panels have included everyone from Wyclef to Don Was, Chaka Khan to Bon Jovi, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to Jill Scott. Bill Withers’ talk with Aloe exemplifies the value of these game-giving sessions as the usual banter about musical influences turned quickly to a much broader discussion of the things that shape us–in Withers case the early childhood trauma of being a stutterer and the religious ideas of some of his overzealous relatives (“I always say: if you ever find me dead in an alley somewhere, one of my relatives beat me to death with a bible.”) The personal reminiscences included a strong dose of real talk about confusing music with the music business and in one of the interview’s most striking moments, Withers speaks candidly about his reaction to a record label executive who wanted him to cover Elvis Presley‘s “In The Ghetto” (“Well that just pissed me off. I wrote ‘Grandma’s Hands’ because I had a grandma. If you see me in the ghetto, brother, I’m passing through.”) Get all the highlights of this illuminating convo by watching the full OKP TV feature below, and hit the link for more info on ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ EXPO 2016.

>>>More Info On ASCAP EXPO 2016


  • Elvis Parsley

    A very wise man!

    • Tariq Abdul

      Sure is:)

  • soulman

    I’ve always had huge respect for Bill Withers as an artist, and he has a fascinating mind, but he’s just out to lunch on Elvis. Simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about

    And Aloe’s just along for the ride so he wasn’t going to challenge him and he probably doesn’t know himself anyway.

    A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure.

    By the very definition of ghetto, Elvis came from extreme or abject poverty. This is incredibly well-documented and even black folks from Tupelo have verified in interviews Elvis family was considered poor white trash. They suffered class prejudice and were banished to living with other poor whites in East Tupelo and parts of Tupelo that only blacks could live in.

    “Elvis didn’t know nothing about the ghetto”. Bill, please. The f**k out of here with that.
    If Bill had talked that nonsense around BB King and some of his other peers that really knew Elvis history he would have got called out.
    Actually BB King did call out many people publicly for dismissing Elvis… Public Enemy’s Chuck D was one of them, and also bluesman Sugar Blue both admitted to changing their views on Elvis to respect, after BB set them down and set them straight.

    Soul brother James Brown and Muhammad Ali both did the same thing… called people out publicly for dissing Elvis.
    Anyone curious can google that info right quick.

    But any rational person has to ask themself if Chuck D could speak with great respect and praise for Elvis in many interviews the last 10 years because he got his ass chewed out by Little Richard and BB King and guys like Muhammad Ali and James Brown spoke highly of Elvis (in their autobiographies and in interviews) as a legitimate artist that came from humble beginnings….
    Well, then … come on, Bill. You’re better than that.

    Elvis sang it because he could relate to the song and as soul singing legend Roy Hamilton, who was in the studio that day, acknowledged Elvis was the perfect guy to be covering that song. Elvis pulled from a place of compassion and empathy. As those that knew him stated he could relate to not only his own poverty as a child, but even more, he had respect for the hardships of black folks.

    I find Bill’s ignorant dismissal of Elvis a bit embarrassing for him. And the blind leading the blind as the crowd applauded his comment like they know a damn thing.
    Too bad BB, James Brown or Little Richard weren’t in the room at that time. Would have been very interesting…. (granted two of the three are passed away anyway).

    But… aside from his swipe at Elvis’ honest effort at the time to help wake up white America to the tragedies of poverty…

    I still found this a great interview 🙂

    • Joseph Jefferson

      Okay Soulman. First of all how old are you? If you are under 60 years of age, you have no voice in this at all, and the voice that you choose to put forth, is strictly second hand. I don’t know if you can understand this, but there is a HUGE difference between “class prejudice” and racial prejudice. To keep things in their proper perspective, ALL of things that were afforded Elvis, was never afforded any to any of the black artists equally or more talented than Elvis

    • soulman

      Off point. Your comment comes off as a high-handed one so you can justify a stance (as well as the one Mr. Withers was implying) that Elvis couldn’t relate to that song because of his skin color and not growing up in a ghetto. Nonsense.
      Oh sure he wasn’t black. But Elvis’s poverty was such that it was abject poverty. Poor whites in Tupelo wanted Elvis’s families ( the poor white-trash-kind) to stay on the outskirts of town or near Shakerag with black folks.
      It was black folks from Tupelo over the years that have given interviews and spoke to the fact that he was so close to that community they saw him almost as an adoptive son.
      (Google “Sam Bell Tupelo Elvis” or “Dr. Zuber and Elvis”).

      He felt the sting of bigotry at an early age, and right on through his teenage years in parts of Memphis.
      Even though he was light-skinned he felt extreme empathy for the bigotry and intolerance blacks felt.

      But Damn. It seems he couldn’t do anything right.
      Black folks back then in the streets, on radio, and in magazines we’re praising Elvis, but in the modern era he’s just dismissed as another good ol boy that didn’t give a damn.
      Then on the other side of the coin he was catching shit from the KKK and racist white America because he was getting involved and helping the black community in Memphis. BB King talked about this and the extra bullseye it put on Elvis back from many hating whites. White boys that didn’t give a damn, or didn’t understand, weren’t doing things that Elvis was doing.

      And yes he was quite aware that he was one step ahead of some prejudice and above it only by fortune of having white skin. But it’s a naive assumption to think Elvis was blind to this or to the message of that song.
      Quite to the contrary it was every bit in his wheelhouse. So like it or not he recorded it with the intentions of getting people, especially white people, to open their eyes. Think for a minute how screwed up that even seems to have a problem with that.

      In Bills defense he might not have been aware of Elvis’s full background but point remains that was a slight that other great Soul singers that knew Elvis’s legitimate feelings and background had no problem with him trying to spread the message of a song like that. Perspective is everything.

      Now, all that said, give me the name of a few white boys that were singers from that same era that came from a much more privileged middle-class background,and never experienced any prejudice in their life. If THAT artist wanted to record that song …
      I’d be with you and Bill lockstep 100%.

    • Joseph Jefferson

      Yeah, but you miss the point like a champ. If you can honestly say that white people in the decade of the fifties in ANY walk of life, were treated as badly or worst than black people, then you can keep deluding yourself, as I will END this conversation.