Throwback Thursday: Listen To A 9-Year Old Sly Stone Croon Like A Grown Man w/ His Future Family Band
Long before there was the eccentric and brilliant architect of funk and soul that we know as Sly Stone, there was little Sylvester Stewart. Born into a religious family that encouraged its fruit to express themselves musically from an early age, the Sly’s parents provided a foundational platform through which he dug into rock’s gospel roots and transformed the r&b tradition forever with a harder, and somehow all at once sweeter, brand of soul music. The Stewart family aligned themselves as the The Stewart Four, a band of toddlers and tikes (some as young as 2) that managed to produce a remarkably sophisticated bundle of gospel recordings for such spry little ones.
“Walking In Jesus Name” and “On The Battlefield” find a 9-year-old (going on seventy something) Sly hitting all the notes and leading the band in a formidable display of early control and poise with that raspy smoke-soaked vox burning through bluesy church numbers. Regardless of whether Sly may or may not have come out of the womb with lit cigarette loosely hanging from his lip, it’s the type of pro chops showcase that inarguably foreshadows the career of a pioneer, stepping to the front of the stage before he could even buy a beer. Mind you, this isn’t the confessional funk of “In Time,” but that nasally, vulnerable refrain is already there and in spades.
Both cuts can be heard on the recently released compilation of early Sly recordings Walking In Jesus Name & More, which is available to purchase via iTunes today. Enjoy this week’s blast from the funky past and stream both ballads with lil Sly Stone and his diaper wearing Family Band below.