My songwriting and my style became more complex as I listened, learned, borrowed and stole and put my music together.
My earliest influences were things I heard in my household.
I'm still trying to re-create a Ray Charles concert that I heard when I was fifteen years old, and all my nerve endings were fried and transformed, and electricity shot through me.
I'm not a jazz singer.
I love all kinds of music.
I feel fortunate that I was able to step away from it when I wasn't interested.
The short answer is, yes, I think I have become a better singer.
I was a guitar player first off.
My first love was the sound of guitar.
There is not a lot that keeps me glued to the radio as I used to be.
I am not a jazz singer. I wouldn't place myself on that footing. I wouldn't even enter that arena.
As far as other instrumentalists, I used to love mellow sax players like Paul Desmond. I love piano.
I'm easily distracted by other things in the world around me.
I would say that I'm finding my voice in more ways than one.
I love working with the quartet. I have more freedom and flexibility.
My parents were music lovers and collectors. It was around.
I felt that, in retrospect, there was a time in the late Seventies, after I had a string of hits and successes, as a performer and a recording artist, that I wasn't saying anything.
A lot of what I have always done is do other singers.
From the time I moved to San Francisco in 1967 to play with the Steve Miller Band, there was a lot of support in the music community for one cause or another, but this one was special because it was put on by people who understood where musicians hearts are.
As a guitar player, you can gravitate to the blues because you can play it easily. It's not a style that's difficult to pick up. It's purely emotive and dead easy to get a start with.
I listened to classical guitar and Spanish guitar, as well as jazz guitar players, rock and roll and blues. All of it. I did the same thing with my voice.
I really just followed my musical instincts every step of my life.
I think that it can be said of a lot of artists, and myself included, that we made the same record over and over from the beginning.
I think the women - Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu - are doing new conceptual things and using their voices to create new American music.
Quite frankly, I've always listened to the black side of the radio dial. Where I grew up, there was a lot of it and there was a lot of live music around.
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