Candi Staton tells the story about her early days in music, how she met Rick Hall of FAME studios and plays tracks from Life Happens.
- All Dressed Up / Tommy Malone / Poor Boy / 4:25
- Ragman's Roll / Moot Davis / Goin' In Hot / 3:09
- Rattle My Bones / The Secret Sisters / Put Your Needle Down / 3:41
- Honey Hush / Brigitte DeMeyer / Savannah Road / 3:06
- The Wash-Up / John Howie Jr And The Rosewood Bluff / Everything Except Goodbye / 2:48
- Call Me / St. Paul & The Broken Bones / Half The City / 2:51
Candi Staton interview recap
[Calvin plays “I Ain't Easy To Love” from Life Happens by Candi Staton.]
Calvin asks Candi Staton to tell us about here very first singing group, a gospel trio she was in during her high school days. Candi Staton says, “It was called the Jewel Gospel Trio out of Nashville Tennessee. There was a parochial school called Jewell Christian Academy. My sister and I along with the Bishop's daughter... we all teamed together I was about 12 Naomi was 9 and my sister Maggie was 14. We wen all across the country. We sung with everybody, Sam Cook, Lou Rawls, the Staple Singers, you name it we were out there with everybody. I stayed there until I was about 18. I came back home and got married. It didn't work out. Then I went out into the secular music industry and made, you're right, about 28 records.”
Calvin asks Candi Staton if that early experience set an expectation that she would pursue a career in music or did she just think it was something fun to do. Candi says, “I was born and raised in Alabama and we were very rural. And just to get away from Alabama and get on the road and ride in all the big cars we were riding in. It was just exciting as a child to be out there with all these people I'd admired and heard n the radio many many times. I never thought I'd get a chance to sit next to them. Or sit on the school house doorstep before we did a show or something. And there I was and I was so excited. I didn't think about anything at the time because I was so young. It was like play and fun. I played ball with Sam Cooke! [laughs] and that was the greatest experience int he world. That's how I grew up. I didn't really have a career planned. It just happened. Like the record Life Happens. When I looked around I was hear and next thing I knew I was making a record in Muscle Shoals. And after that I made a record in L.A. and then New York. I was just everywhere. It was guided that way, the route was already planned for me it seems like. I didn't sit down and strategize what my life was going to be like. I just took it one day at a time and it turned out well for me.
Calvin asks how Candi Staton met Rick Hall of FAME studios. Candi Staton, tells the story, “I was just getting my divorce from my first husband. I didn't know what I was going to do. I had four kids and I was a single mom. I didn't have a clue what I was going to do raising four kids. Because I just had a high school education. So I was scared. I started working a club in Birmingham Alabama. It was called the 2728 club and it held abut 150 people and I filled the club up every Friday and Saturday night. And Clarence Carter came through. He was going to play the next weekend. I was the regular there but he was going to play. The owner of the night club says, 'My girls' going to sing before you.' And Clarence says , “No no no I have my own revue. I brought my own girls.' The owner says, 'No you're not. Not here you're not. Candi's going to sing before you.' And Clarence says, 'Well you better get her over here and rehearse then you talk so highly of her, let me hear her.” So I go in there and first thing I ask him to do, I said 'Clarence, do you know 'Tell Mama'' And he started laughing I did not know that he wrote it. The joke was on me! He said 'yeah I think I can come up with something on that one.' Etta James had just done that one and it was real hot. So he did it and he did it just like the record. And I'm like, 'wow he's good!' Then I did Aretha Franklin's 'Do Right Woman' and he asked me to go on the road with him. At that time I was going to get back in school and become a nurse. But I didn't have a chance because I went right on the road with Clarence. And he took me down to Muscle Shoals and he said 'I got somebody for you to meet. He's a producer. He's looking for a female artist. Etta James just left him. Gone to Atlantic. He needs a good female singer.' So I go into the studio and I get on the piano and I play a little bit. I started laying “Do Right Woman.” And Rick [Hall] says, 'Do you know something else?' I said 'you don't like that one?' He said, 'No I just recorded that one on Aretha.' And I was like 'I can't win for losing. This man recorded all that stuff with Aretha.' So I just made up something! I was so anxious for the job. I just sat down and started making up stuff, cause I'm a song writer now. I used to write then I just never had the guts to put it out, so I would sit around and play around on the piano. So I said, 'OK, let me sit down and think of something,” And I was 'oh lordy help me think of something.' So I just started playing something and singing it. And George Jackson was there and Earl Cage was a song writer for Rick Hall. They had a song for 'I'd rather be an old man's sweetheart' for Aretha Franklin. Actually they had written it for her. And Rick Hall called the keyboard player and said sit down and play this for us and see if she can do it. And I sat down and tore it up. [laughs]. And he said lets go to the studio TONIGHT. And he got everybody up there. And he got them all in the studio about 10:00 and we were there til 12:00 or 1:00 and recorded all those songs. But it was so much fun. He signed me as an artist. It was distributed by Capitol, the first record I did. It had 'Stand By Your Man and All that. and that's how I got started.”
Calvin notes that Candi's first album was recorded in '68, which was a very turbulent time during the Civil Rights movement and asks Candi Staton if any of that found its way into the studio. Candi Staton says, “We never had a problem. We didn't see color. We saw music. If you see the documentary, Muscle Shoals, you'll see the whole thing. the documentary talks about it so well. At lunch we'd all come in together because we'd been working together all day and sometimes all night. And we'd sit down in a restaurant and people would start looking funny. And Rick Hall would yell “what you looking at!” and everybody would go back to eating. And we would just die laughing...... That's how we dealt with it. We were used to it. Being from Alabama we were used to it. It wasn't any big deal. No biggie.”
Calvin asks Candi Staton to set up, “Close To You.” Candi Staton says, “That's a beautiful songs. I love that song. I can't get enough of it. My band in Europe is the Push Band. They sent me some tracks and they asked me to put words to them. So I'm listening to that song. I'm laying on the middle of the living room floor with the music playing, just the tracks. I was real lonely. I'm not married so I was lying there lonely. I just started daydreaming about what I'd like to have with a marriage or relationship and I just came up with 'Close To You,'”
[Calvin plays, “Close To You” from Life Happens by Candi Staton.]
Calvin asks Candi Staton if it was difficult to recreate that 60's era soul sound on the record. Candi Staton says, “Not at all because that's who I am. I'm part country. I'm part rhythm & blues. I'm part gospel. So everything I sing has that same feel. I don't care what I'm singing. I could be singing Mary Had A Little Lamb and it would end up sounding like that.”
Calvin asks Candi to tell the story of how she met Jason Isbell and John Paul White to do “I Ain't Easy To Love.” Candi Staton says, “We were doing the song, “I Ain't Easy To Love.” We were doing Dave Letterman show that's where I met them. I told Rick I want two guys with great voices. And he said well I don't know anybody. You ever meet rick he's just an old hometown boy. He said I don't know what we're going to do about that one. And I said I don't either hopefully we'll get somebody. So we set the record down for about a year looking for someone who would be able to come on the record with me. And somehow the show producers hooked that up. And when they cooked it up we were rehearsing in the dressing room. I met John before but I never met Jason. I met John in Tennessee when he was in the Civil Wars. So I'm like OK I know John, but who is this other guy.” And [the producers] said well they're going to do it with you. And I said oh really. And they said they can sing. And I said I know John can sing. I went up on the internet and listened to Jason and I said this is going to be bad, good night this is going to be bad. So we went over it one time, trust me, on the show. When you're doing Dave Letterman's show, you only get to go through it once or twice. And Paul Shaffer he's out there directing everything. So we got through it one time and the original players were on it. most of them anyway. And we just rehearsed it once and we got up and did it like that. And he went wild, he really did. He said Oh my god my god this is great. So when I went in the back room I said, “would y'all mind being on the record with me?' and they said oh now we'd be honored and that's how it came about.”
Candi Staton sets up. “Where I'm At.” She says “That's the second one from the the Push Band. I wrote the lyrics on that one too.”
[Calvin plays “Where I'm At” from Life Happens by Candi Staton.]
Candi Staton talks about he upcoming schedule. She says she's going to Germany next month and another European tour in September. She also says she's writing a book about her son and the judicial system and she's also writing her autobiography.
Candi Staton sets up, “My Heart's On Empty.” Candi Staton says, “The album is called Life Happens. And everything on this album is something that happened to me and I've got a song for every experience. I was coming out of a relationship and it was kind of hurtful. And that's when I wrote that song. It's a blues. I've had it written for seven or eight years and just never recorded it.”
[Calvin plays “My Heart's On Empty” from Life Happens by Candi Staton.]
Calvin asks Candi Staton about how she works creating songs, “We all come together and sit in the control room and make it up as we go. Everybody comes up with an idea. We do it the old-fashioned way. That's how I started that's I love to do it. Music is created. The digital music is fine but when you get in there and everybody starts working together and vibes' start moving and creativity starts between five or six people at once. And OK lets do it like this or I got and idea. This is how we came up with these songs. It's just the most gorgeous experience. It's so exciting. And I love live music. I just do. I love the bands. I love to be able to vibe off the bands. Tracks are fine, but give me live music.”
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