Then after I collected myself, I was able to listen to the whole thing and just really enjoy it. I think it’s one of those CD’s that you can put on and not have to skip all over the place to find something you like. It’s just great from beginning to end as far as I’m concerned. Every cut on here I think is terrific and I love the kind of understated performances that everyone did, that it didn’t get into a fishing contest. It was more about revering the originator of the material and not trying to out-sing him or out-sing yourself or be particularly technically brilliant, just very sincere kinds of performances on this project.
Smitty: I totally agree.
PA: So that’s what I love about it.
Smitty: Yes, very heartfelt, isn’t it?
PA: Yes, it really is, it really is, and you hear it in every single cut, every cut.
Smitty: Yes, it’s my most played CD right now. (Laughs.)
PA: Yeah, mine too, mine too.
Smitty: Wow, and you mentioned “Superstar.” Will Downing just….
PA: Killed it.
Smitty: He did. He killed it.
PA: He killed it.
Smitty: And just poured his heart into it.
PA: But in the most simplistic, wonderful way, not doing the whole lotta heavy duty screamin’, just sang the lyrics and it’s just beautiful, a beautiful performance.
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely, yes, and then my buddy Kirk Whalum, he opens the project with “Give Me the Reason.”
Smitty: And what a nice opening for the entire project.
PA: Yeah. And Kirk’s brother Kevin (Whalum), who is also another killer, killer singer.
Smitty: Oh yeah.
PA: And Maysa, who is another killer, killer singer. I mean, great vocals happening.
PA: Jonathan Butler. Wonderful, wonderful performances.
Smitty: Yes, everywhere, and our friend Gerald Albright, whom everybody loves, and what a great tune he did there (“If This World Were Mine”).
Smitty: Everything about this record is just beautiful, and it typifies who Luther was.
PA: I think it does. I think maybe more than all of the other compilation projects dedicated to him before, I think this one kind of captures the essence of his persona and his sound.
Smitty: Yes, absolutely.
PA: Much more, actually, than the other ones, and I think one of the reasons is that it just has this wonderful, honorable, tasty style to it, which is exactly what Luther was about, you know what I mean? When he wrote, he did not, if you go back and listen to Luther’s vocals, he did not do a whole lot of ranting when he sang.
PA: And he didn’t do a lot of calisthenics when he sang, and when he wrote something, he really didn’t do a lot of calisthenics and ranting because it was from his heart. So he would put it all there in the lyrics and in the melody, and so you don’t have to do a whole lot with it. All you need to do is sing it, and if you’ve got a voice like he had, it’s not a very shabby thing. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: Yeah, and Luther, like you said, he sang from his heart.
PA: Yeah, absolutely.
Smitty: And it was to the point and it was everyday.
PA: Yep. He loved music and he loved singers and he loved musicians, and he also listened to a lot of people and adored a lot of other people’s work. He was very respectful of other people’s work and a fan, a true fan. If he liked your music, he was listening to it.
PA: And he would walk up to ya and sing everything you’d ever sung.
PA: If he was a fan, he went “Oh, girl” and he’d sing a lick from one thing and something from another, and he just knew everything about you.
Smitty: And that’s when you know that people really appreciate who you are and what you’re doing.
Smitty: Yeah, and he was that way, you’re right. And even his performances, you know, when he had different singers and musicians with him.