BW: Yeah, that’s very true but you know I’m trying to catch up with Rick Ross to hear what we recorded! It was great because with his tracks, it wasn’t even like trying something new, he really brought something close to some of my old records and…I was at home with it, I would say, when we went in the studio together.
OKP: So you would say he reached back to your vibe…
BW: He reached back to something he felt from my records and it was great. I was very surprised with that because it’s embarrassing sometimes, you know, when I have to ask my son (whispers): Who’s Rick Ross? –and he’s like, Daddy he’s one of the hottest rappers out here—not ‘one of the’, the hottest rapper out here! And I say: Ok, I didn’t know. I think sometimes its better not to know, you know. Because I’ve been blessed to work with some many people in my time: Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix…and I still see them. It sounds crazy but when I perform, I see them there on stage with me, like they’re grading my performance. And I mention them in my music for that reason, because they’re very present to me…
OKP: You have indeed been blessed to work with so many of the greats; is there one collaborator who really stood out to you over the years?
BW: Wilson Pickett. Because Wilson Pickett really gave me my first shot, and I never paid him back. I think about it now. When I was coming to Atlantic and Atlantic didn’t want to sign me, he said, Well why don’t you bring those songs to me? I was like, well…why didn’t you say you were interested in those songs in the first place! And he said, No because I’m hot right now. So if you bring me your songs, every time people see my name they’ll see your name under it. Whenever they see Wilson Pickett they’ll see Bobby Womack [on the songwriting credit] right under it. And he was right. Because of that, labels that wasn’t paying attention to me started trying to sign me.
OKP: Speaking of labels, will you be putting out a new album after this?
BW: Yes I’ve already been working on one because its not like it used to be, you have to follow up right away or people forget about you so quick…
OKP: So will you be working with Damon and Richard again?
BW: I told Damon and Richard that whenever they’re available to record I will make myself available. But I was already Working on a new album, I have Stevie Wonder on it, I have Rod Stewart, Levert, Snoop Dogg is on it, this lady from Motown–now what was her name? Well, I have a lot of songs where you hear Stevie Wonder singing the song and you hear me on the same song, so you really get the style, because I think that’s important. You don’t get that style anymore. Like Sam Cooke and Ray Charles I love both because they’re both so different. Nowadays its more about fitting everybody in with the latest style or the latest fad–and then that’s how they get rid of you so quick when the fad goes out—except maybe Mariah Carey, she still has that voice and that sound you recognize. But you know I heard an interview with Gloria Gaynor the other day and what she was saying was true: mostly you have to really fight to get your own sound and get it down. It takes time; sometimes it takes a few records that don’t sell till you find it. Anybody– Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye–they all fought the labels to put their own sound down and that’s why they lasted.
OKP: So what will these live shows [at City winery] be like?
BW: Well first is, I try not to plan to much. Because you want the freedom to come out and do the songs people want to here and just go where the spirit moves you. That’s why I always use the same band so they’re not just learning a set, it’s always the same guys I work with so they can go wherever I go.
OKP: So would it be same band from Bravest Man In Th Universe–with Jaleel Bunton [from TV On The Radio]… ?
BW: No, I have my own band—when I came to London [for the Bravest Man sessions] they already had tracks cut and I heard it I said…well, first I said I wouldn’t have done it quite like that. But then you have to step back and say Well, I’m not the one cutting this one. And that’s what I came to Damon and Richard for—or why else come to London?
OKP: Do you think you’ll ever reach a place where you would say ‘this is my last album’ or ‘this is my last show’–or will you just keep going ?
BW: I’ll just keep going. Because that feeling when they say your name and you come out on stage and people want to hear you, you can’t get better than that. It’s all about having somebody to go home with. Because you can’t take the whole audience home with you, but if you can find that one person who gives you the same feeling…because when the time comes and you have something to sing and they say its time to go home? It feels like you’ve been a part of a family and they don’t want you in the family anymore.