Tue 11.09.18

José James celebrates Bill Withers: ‘Lean On Me’

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Unique tribute to the maker of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, ‘Use Me’ ‘Lovely Day’, ...

Soul and R&B legend Bill Withers – born William Harrison Withers Jr. – will be 80 this year. And that – you can feel it coming – must be celebrated. He wrote music history with superb singles and million sellers like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ (we’ve rarely heard such beauty in scarcely 2 minutes and 7 seconds), ‘Use Me’ and ‘Lean On Me’. As far as we’re concerned – with songs like ‘Lovely Day’,Who Is He (and what is He to You)?’ or ‘Just The Two Of Us’ – it was only right that he won three Grammy Awards and was most deservedly inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

You can quite safely call José James an In-house Artist at AB. You might even label him an AB Regular, with his 10 shows to date. Even more special: no other international artist has ever, at our request, made three unique productions for AB. Remember ‘Facing East’ (a tribute to jazz legend John Coltrane) that he put together with Jef Neve, in 2009. ‘Yesterday I Had The Blues’ was then an ode to Billie Holiday, which also had an international release via the legendary Blue Note Records. And so now there is ‘Lean On Me’, a more than appropriate tribute to Bill Withers.

Those who have seen José James at work in the past, no doubt heard his vivid interpretations of Bill Withers songs like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, ‘Grandma's Hands', ‘Use Me’ and ‘Just the Two of Us’. The audience reactions were memorable: ‘People would just go crazy!’. Enter José James' most ambitious project to date: over the coming two years, the man will namely head out on a world tour to reinterpret the Bill Withers songbook. That tour will is to culminate in an album that will, again, be released via Blue Note Records.

By the way, Bill Withers gave his blessing for the project after a personal encounter with José James. Of that meeting, José said: ‘I learned more in that hour than I did at music school and a decade's worth of shows. Without Withers, there would be no John Legend, Alicia Keys, or D'Angelo’.



José James: vocals

Sullivan Fortner: piano

Brad Allen Williams: guitar

Ben Williams: bass

Nate Smith: drums


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