Bill Withers celebrated his 77th birthday last weekend, and Jhene Aiko has taken a little extra time to pay tribute. Aiko performed two of the R&B legend’s most-beloved songs, taking her turn on both “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day” from a serene home office, accompanied by only an electric guitar.
Aiko’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” kept close to the song’s original feel, and allowed its heartbreaking lyrics to retain their poignancy. Long braids spilling down her shoulder and lit (a little ironically) by bright sunlight, Aiko appears radiant and sounds incredible as she transitions seamlessly into “Lovely Day.” The song selection is brilliant on her part–“Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day” highlight the far opposite ends of Withers’s work, the bitter pain simple joy that he was so skilled at rendering with just a few simple lines.
Aiko also shared an extended letter in which she shared how much Withers means to her as a music idol. She wrote:
Bill didn’t start creating music until he was in his 30’s, proving that there is no limit to what you are capable of. One of the things that inspires me the most about Bill is his attention to lyrics and storytelling. It wasn’t about his image, being flashy, or putting on a “show”. For him, it was about the song. No fluff, just pure feeling. It was about connecting. It was about the music. And it is still about the music.
You can read Aiko’s full letter over at the FADER, who premiered the Withers tribute video. Watch it below and raise one up for one of the greatest soul artists of all time. Happy birthday, Bill!