The Energy of Music

Soul Music

Growing up, I had the great pleasure of seeing some truly amazing performances by famous and not so famous musical acts. Energy is not even the right word for it.

If you ever saw Tina Turner live in her "rough" days with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, you will have some idea of what energy on stage is all about. Tina & the Ikettes could light up Cuba with the amount of energy that they would generate in an evening performance.

James Brown had the amazing capacity of getting an arena full of fans grooving with The Famous Flames and a few minutes later you could here your heart beating as he sang a ballad from his toes. Both were energy released in different quantities and at different intervals but it was so full of meaning.

To me there is no better inspirational song performance than Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful. Interestingly enough, I am a Canadian. I particularly like the version with his friend Billy Preston, on the Hammond B3 organ. Emotion turned into passion by the entire band.

The Rolling Stones, in their early years. There I was in the 18th row and I couldn't see or hear a thing because of how out of control the crowd was that evening. But there was a great reward that I saw earlier that evening in a performance by a group called Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles. Patti could sing just about anywhere without a microphone and her commitment was something you just watched in awe. She probably should wear open toed shoes because when she sang from her toes, she would dig down so deep that even the leather covering her toes was going to get blown away. There is no doubt that her background in gospel music served her well.

And my most favourite performance was an evening with Gladys Knight and the Pips. I have never had the pleasure of so many goose bumps in one night and it was in the middle of the week, no less.

And some others that generated central power grid energy that I saw live were Led Zeppelin, Isaac Hayes, Chuck Berry, Chuck Mangione, Harry Chapin, Wilson Pickett and so many others that were local talents that gave it all in their performance.

For me, one particular memory of a performer named Roy Kenner (he sang for The Mandala and Bush for some of you who might remember) will always stand out. Roy was not dark skinned as you might think, but I remember him sitting in a chair in the dressing room after his last act at the club I worked at. I think I was all of 16 then. Roy had the look of someone that had just run a marathon, climbed a mountain and carried a huge sack of coal along as well. His brow was drenched in sweat. He was just spent but you could still see the smile of satisfaction coming through. I was introduced to soul that night.

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