Sunday, October 10, 2010

Remembering seeing Solomon Burke in Sarasota

One of the great thrills of my music writing career came in 2003 when I watched pioneering soul music great Solomon Burke, who died today at age 70 today, perform at the Sarasota Blues Fest.

Seated on a throne — on which he was raised to the stage via a forklift carefully hidden from the audience — the rock 'n' soul king performed with a verve and affability that left me feeling utterly overjoyed.

Sounding as amazingly rich and powerful as he ever has on record, Burke delivered his signature hit "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," selections off his Grammy-winning 2002 album "Don't Give Up on Me" and a most poignant rendition of Sam Cooke's stirring hymn "A Change Is Gonna Come."

I interviewed Burke by phone prior to his Sarasota date. "I want to keep the fire going of 'Don't Give Up on Me' and, more importantly, remind people, don't give up on themselves," he said for my story that ran in the St. Petersburg Times.

Burke and I met in person. Before he performed that night at the Blues Fest in 2003. I shook his giant hand and then we spoke for a few moments. Nervous, I tried my best not to stammer.

I thanked him for making music that moved me. Thanked him for making music that made even the worst day seem a little better. Thanked him for making music that reminds people not to give up on themselves.

Guitars wail as Burke performed at 2003 Sarasota Blues Fest
Burke interviewed by the Herald in 2003 for festival

Solomon Burke performing "Don't Give Up On Me."

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