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From pop artist to church pastor - the story of the great "soul singer" Al Greene

Whether singing praises to God or celebrating the temporary joys of life, Al Green remains one of the last great "soul singers"...

The Al Green Story: Early Years, Success, Religion

Al Green American singer, famous in 1970's years with such hits as "Take Me to the River", "Tired of Being Alone", "I'm Still in Love with You" and many others! However… the tragic incident involving his girlfriend made Albert Leornes (real name of the artist) pastor. Today he is called "one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music"! And the list of awards for this man really seems endless: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 11 Grammy Awards, BMI Icon and Kennedy Center Awards… No wonder Al Green included in the prestigious list of the greatest performers of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine ...

Considered the last true successor Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Al Green has built a long and prolific career as a pop and gospel singer... His pop and religious writings have won praise from musicians and critics alike. Green has a voice that is really capable of rich blues tone and high falsetto screams! However, the artist easily conveys plaintive emotions without a sharp delivery or guttural technique. His sexy silky vocals earned him a streak of millions of sales in 1970's years!

After leaving popular music in 1980 he became a member of the ministry and a gospel singer. And his return to pop music and the appearance of his songs in documentaries and film soundtracks again attracted everyone's attention to him.

Early years

Al Green in his youth
Al Green in his youth

Albert Green was born April 13, 1946 years in Forrest City, Arkansas. As a teenager, he and his brothers Walter, William and Robert - formed an evangelical quartet The Green Brothers. Although he sang in a gospel group, Green had a passion for both religious and popular music. He once stated:

“Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson - I didn't see much difference between sacred and secular music. If they sang with feeling, from the bottom of their hearts, I loved their music…”

In 12 years old Green moved with his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city about 180 miles west of Detroit. Four years later, he and some of his high school friends formed the pop group Creations. IN 1967 year the group renamed to Al Green and the Soulmates, recorded a pop hit "Back Up Train" for the Hotline label: the song climbed to number five on the R&B charts and number 41 on the Billboard charts. Despite the success of the song, the group itself did not become successful and soon broke up ...

Getting started

Al Green
Al Green

In 1968 Green performed at the club in Midland, Texas, with the support of the leader of the Memphis Orchestra Willie Mitchell (who became the star of his time with a remake of the instrumental King Curtis "Soul Serenade"). Impressed by talent Greena, Mitchell, who was part-time and producer Hi Records in Memphis, invited the young singer to sign with the label, promising that he could make Green a star in just over a year! About six months later, Green arrived in Memphis. Together, Green and Mitchell sought to create a style that combined pop and soul. Detroit Motown with the home atmosphere of the Memphis label Stax: they were striving for a black and white synthesis in which black soul was mixed with white pop music ... The musical formula proposed by Mitchell and Green turned out to be an outstanding combination ... In 1968, a cover of the song was released Beatles "I Want to Hold Your Hand", but only when Green recorded a remake of the Temptations hit "I Can't Get Next to You", he has established himself as a pop music star!

As for the next single "Tired of Being Alone", then this time Mitchell strove for a more subtle sound in Green's voice:

“We started working on trying to get him to sing softer… We started coming up with jazzy chords and it just clicked!”

So, to the accompaniment of a relaxed and tasteful guitar part Tiny Hodges, "Tired of Being Alone" turned into Green's first big hit...

Hit number one

Al Green, 1972 LP Let's Stay Together
Al Green, 1972 LP Let's Stay Together

Green's title song from 1972 LP Let's Stay Together brought him his first number one hit! The record itself solidified Green's direction. Modeled after Sam Cooke and Otis Reddinghe set his own style...

In 1972 The year also saw the release of Green's best-selling album, I'm still in love with you: with the exception of a symbolic cover on "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, the record is a perfect demonstration of Green's talent... For example, in the popular and exciting number "Love and Happiness" he portrays the dual role of preacher and soul singer, creating pop classics...

In 1974 Greene released a record Al Green Explores Your Mind on the Hi label. In the same year, his career took a sharp turn. As he climbed out of the bath at his home, Green's girlfriend poured a pot of boiling cereal over him, causing second-degree burns to his back and arms...Then the young woman did the irreparable: as a result, she died...Recovering from the physical and emotional shock of the incident with a highly publicized ex-girlfriend, Green recorded a record Full Of Fire (1976).

In 1977 year Green broke up with Mitchell and recorded the critically acclaimed LP The Belle Album: The album was noted for Green's acoustic and electric guitar playing and inventive sound engineering. IN 1978 year the musician released Truth N' Time, LP which included gospel songs "Blow Me Down" and "King of All", as well as religious treatment of the song Burt Bacharach "Say a Little Prayer for Me".

Religion

Al Green...
Al Green...

In the end 1970's Green purchased his own church in Memphisby becoming the pastor of the institution. In 1980 he left popular music to devote himself to religion. This greatly surprised his former producer Mitchell, who stated:

“I had no idea he was going to be a preacher, but he was always religious…”

By myself Green said:

“I have to divide my time between singing and my church in Memphis, and well, I do my best to cope with this task ... And I have to devote enough time to each case, which is sometimes difficult. I preach in the church every second Sunday, and we have so many members…”

A new religious direction led Green to a modern record of the gospel. Green's voice is present on the albums Higher Plane (1981) and Precious Lord (1982). In 1982, Green also starred in the production "Your arms are too short to fight God" with Patti Labelle. He signed with A&M Records in 1985 year and recorded three albums for this label. Green also continued to delight the audience with his live performance... Green constantly switched between control and selflessness: he jumped and paced, grimaced, stood with seemingly limp hands and then moved on to preaching gestures. A documentary was released in 1987 "The Gospel According to Green": The 94-minute documentary featured live recordings and interviews with Green and Mitchell. Most notable are Mitchell's recollections of his studio experience with this soul icon...

Return to popular music

Al Green
Al Green

TO 1993 year Green again began to record variety material, and the following year starred in the musical film "Rhythm, Country and Blues", dedicated to the musical cultures of Memphis and Nashville. The duet featured on the film's soundtrack Green and Lyle Lovett "Funny How Time Slips Away".

By the end 1990s Green overcame the decline in his album sales and began to enjoy great popularity with fans. Song "Take to Me the River" became, as a result, his most famous composition! And his hit 1970's years "Let's Stay Together" regained attention when it appeared on the soundtrack of the 1994 film "Crime novel".

His career received a new impetus in 1999 the year he appeared in the popular television series "Ellie McBeal", performing his 1972 song "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?". In 2003, Green worked with his old mate Willie Mitchell at his old Hi Records studio to release I Can't Stop: On this well-received album, Green successfully returned to the sound that made him famous in the 1970s. This is evident when listening to tracks such as "I Can't Stop" and "Not Tonight". At the same time, he has received recognition for the wide range of his work, being inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004...

Conclusion

Through fame, religious times and self-reinvention as a pop artist, Green has remained a dynamic artist whose abilities easily cross the boundaries of secular and religious music. Unlike your mentor Sam Cookwho left the church at the end 1950s years to start a career in pop music, Green left a successful musical career to devote himself to God and the church… For many, his transition from pop music to the gospel is a sign of inner unrest… However, singing the praises of God or celebrating the temporary joys of life , Al Green remains one of the last great "singers of the soul"...

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