By Jannah G. Johnson, Special to the AFRO
Peabo Bryson has been a prolific icon in the music community for over 42 years, recording over 21 studio albums and performing all across the globe, however Maryland continues to have a special significance to him.
“Maryland and I have kind of a love affair. Maryland appreciates good music and they always have. They like their R&B and Jazz straight with no chaser, they’re music lovers and that’s always great to see,” he tells the AFRO.
Bryson, who is 67-years-old, has been singing since the age of 15 and first became interested in music as a craft when attending a concert with his mother.
“When I was a young man my mother was a great music lover and my sister and I were blessed with the opportunity to accompany her to see Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson live on the same stage. It was there that I saw the impact that music could have. I’m old enough to have been born during segregation and when you attended those concerts the Black audience sat wherever the White audience was not. Their performance that night transcended race, religion, politics, and any other barrier that existed. In that moment I saw how powerful music was.”
“As eloquent and passionate as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was and as much as he did and contributed socially and politically it wasn’t him who made me think differently about what Black was. It was James Brown with “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud.” It changed the way my culture looked at itself and it changed the way the world looked at my culture. It changed things dramatically just with one song. It proved to me again that this is an honorable profession in the hands of someone with something to say. I love the result of music more than anything else.”
Having been a popular musician for over 40 years Bryson recognizes that he has lasted in the industry far longer than some of his contemporaries. He has recorded songs with Natalie Cole, Minnie Ripperton, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan and Regina Bell, among others. Bryson attributes his longevity to his faith and God’s grace and considers his voice to be anointed.
“There’s a different between a great singer with a great voice and an anointed voice. A great voice speaks to us all because it’s great while an anointed voice speaks to us all but not in the same way. An anointed vice speaks directly to our spirits, to our soul, there’s no denying it. That’s what I call a blessing. It’s a blessing like water really, we cannot exist without it. It’s that type of blessing that I’ve learned to invoke.”
Bryson released his latest studio album “Stand For Love” August 3 and believes it to have fallen in line perfectly with his and his fan’s high standards.
“This is America, where youth is preferred over maturity and experience. America will try to put you in some category and leave you there. But one thing that’s been unique about my career through the years is that I’ve never belonged in any one category. I believe that’s played a huge role in my people deciding that I’m relevant, my request of those I worked with on this latest album was ‘Can you make me relevant in any music conversation today without destroying what I’ve worked so hard over the years to build’, and they did that.”
“The music is unique, it’s good music with a good message and it’s what I’ve always stood for. Love is a singular thing, it’s a singular thing because you can write or sing about it everyday without repeating yourself because it’s constantly evolving. It’s never the same for any two people although there are some common threads, and at the end of the day it’s what everyone wants, and everyone needs.”
Peabo Bryson will be performing September 21 at The Jazz and Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland.