Bill Withers - The Okayplayer Interview

Music Icon Speaks on Songwriting, Sampling and Legendary Concerts

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Okayplayer published a recent interview with iconic soul singer Bill Withers, just before the Lean On Him: A Tribute To Bill Withers concert October 1 at Carnegie Hall featuring D’Angelo, Michael McDonald, Anthony Hamilton, Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran & more. The site was able to pick the troubadour’s thoughts on songwriting, sampling and some of the standout moments from his classic concerts–as well as sussing out his chances of ever recording again--preferably with Questlove at the helm, please and thank you. Read the exclusive interview here:

For students of soul, Bill Withers–as Questlove so aptly put it–is our Everyman. An airplane mechanic who never played an instrument until he picked up a guitar and decided to teach himself songwriting–and wrote “Ain’t No Sunshine” on one of his first demos out–Withers also never quit his day-job, even after it was clear he had a hit and a record deal on his hands. More hits followed: “Lean On Me,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Use Me,” “Lovely Day,” and “Just The Two of Us,” just to name a few. But after a decade or two of label politics and A&Rs trying to tell him what to sing, Withers famously walked away from it all... yet still managed to live comfortably by retaining control of his own catalog. His career stands equally as testament to the ideal of craft over industry, of self-determination over the trappings of fame.

A series of retrospective recognitions of Withers’ achievements have pulled the reclusive star into the spotlight again this year. Beginning with his recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, continuing with his ‘Master Class’ lecture at ASCAP’s EXPO 2015 (watch his onstage interview with Aloe Blacc here) and culminating this Thursday, October 1st with the Carnegie Hall Tribute to his music, and brought to you in part by Okayplayer! The Carnegie Hall tribute in particular, recreates Withers’ iconic 1972 concert in the legendary performance space–an immortal moment in live music and a highlight in a performing career that also including stops in Kinshasa to join James Brown, BB King, Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz and a few others onstage at the Zaire ’74 concert that accompanied Muhammad Ali’s epic Rumble In The Jungle with George Foreman.