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DAVID HUDSON

  Mr. David Hudson doesn’t get lost in Porretta Terme.  A frequent visitor to the Porretta Soul Festival, actually last July was the fourth time for this magnificent soul singer to perform there.  Earlier shows in 1993, 1995 and 2012 eventually achieved him the status of a “poster boy” in 2013.

  On a velvety Italian Saturday night on July the 20th, David electrified the atmosphere with a rousing version of Johnnie Taylor’s Who’s Making Love, after which he brought the tempo down to a soothing and soulful reading of Bobby Womack’s That’s the Way I Feel about Cha.  Again up and down by way of Carl Carlton’s She’s a Bad Mama Jama and Kris Kristofferson’s For the Good Times, in an Al Green style.  After King Floyd’s Groove Me came the highlight of the evening: during the rendition of a self-written, beautiful ballad, I’m in Love, David proposed to his long-time girlfriend, the lovely Juanita Turner, who was sitting in the audience.  The wedding will take place in September this year.  David finished his 45-minute set with a dance song and the title tune of his latest CD, Feels So Good.  Still on Sunday night David returned on stage and redid Who’s Making Love and That’s the Way I Feel about Cha, another serenade for Juanita.

ATLANTA – MIAMI – ATLANTA – MIAMI – ATLANTA...

  David James Hudson Sr. was born in Atlanta on December 17 in 1953.  At the age of six he lost the sight of his right eye.  David: “I was playing with some friends with the slingshot.  I was trying to show my baby brother how to shoot with slingshot.  He pulled the slingshot back and he said ‘move’.  I turned around and slipped, and it shot me in the eye.  The right eye is completely out.”

  All through his life David has been back and forth mostly between two cities.  “I moved to Miami in 1970.  I stayed in Miami through ’84, went back to Atlanta, and then I met Willie Mitchell and stayed in Memphis.  I went back to Miami again recently in 2000, and I just moved back to Atlanta (laughing), where I’m going to stay from now on.”

  At this point please read the thorough feature on David with an interview by our reporter Pirkka Kivenheimo.  The article was published in our printed paper # 6/93, a couple of months after David had performed at the Pori Jazz Festival here in Finland together with Millie Jackson.  It covers David’s life and career all the way up to 1993.  The title of the article is David Hudson, Married To His Music.

MUST I KILL HER

  When talking to David in Porretta last July, I still went back to a couple of episodes in his career in the 70s and 80s.  After the amazing amount of close to three hundred canned cuts that Pirkka wrote about, David’s very first single that was actually released came out in 1978.  Must I Kill her (Alston 3741) is a story-telling ballad written by Clarence Reid, produced by Fred J. Thomas & Freddy Stonewall and arranged by Clarence Reid and Mike Lewis.  It has a long opening monologue and it grows into a dramatic delivery, but actually it’s almost the same song as J.P. Robinson’s small hit on Alston in 1970 named What Can I Tell Her.  “As a matter of fact, it’s the same track, but with different lyrics.”  The flip side is a mid-tempo funky number called I Get Turned On, by the same team.

  The follow-up single in 1979, Pump it (Alston 3746), was written by Earl Kenneth King, Jr. and co-written and produced by Willie Clarke and – contrary to the debut single – they put it on the Honey Honey album, too.  Pump it was an unashamed, busy disco track with a mid-tempo bouncer named Let Me Wrap You in My Love on the flip.  “They were trying to put me in a circle like Jimmy “Bo” Horne, KC and George McCrae, but I was into ballads, love songs.”

We also went back to David’s signature song, Honey Honey, for a minute. “I was singing in a club in Miami and Willie Clarke and Betty Wright came to see me perform, and that led to the recording.  Earl King was trying to become a writer at the T.K. studios.  He brought in a couple of songs.  Willie Clarke heard Honey Honey and said ‘that would be perfect for David’.  They recorded the tracks and I went in and recorded the lead at night.”  The flip, a bluesy ballad called Come on Back Baby, was another non-album track.

  After Alston and TK filed for bankruptcy in 1981, David moved over to a small company out of Fort Pierce, Florida, for a one-off single.  “Clarence Reid and Alisha Sneed were working with this company called Bound Sound.  I wanted to get to Willie Mitchell, and I figured that the best way to get to him is to do all of his songs, trying to sound like the artist.  So I did the Bee Gees song How Can You Mend a Broken Heart and sounded like Al Green.  Willie Mitchell heard it and said ‘you can sing, but you don’t have to sound like Al Green’ (laughing).  After that I went to Willie Mitchell – thank Lord!  I love the Pops.”  Actually the A-side of the Bound Sound single was Rick Lucas’ song Different Lady, a down-tempo number with a heavy, dragging urban beat.   Bound Sound existed for about three years (1982 – 85) and, besides David, in their roster they had, among others, Joey Gilmore, Jessie Butler and Chuck Roberson.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

  In 1993 David told Pirkka about the second album with Willie Mitchell that he was working on and was very excited about.  Their first collaboration, Nite & Day, had been released in 1987.  Unfortunately, Waylo ran into problems and the project stayed in the vaults.  “It was never released.  We had almost completed the album, and the gentleman, who sponsored the Memphis Soul Night tour, had some people to come in from California to promote my single that we were going to release at that time.  The guy got to Miami and got an apartment in a house, where they were selling drugs or something, and they brought the investigation down on us.  We had to sit back on the project, because they froze everything, so we couldn’t do anything with the album.  After Pops passed, his grandsons have finally released this album.”

  Soul Junction Records out of West Midlands, England, released the album in a vinyl format on August 16 in 2010.  Featuring Wille’s ace musicians at the Royal Sound Studios in Memphis, such as Lester Snell on keyboards, Steve Potts on drums, Archie Mitchell on percussion, Michael Toles on guitar and a 5-piece horn section and four background vocalists, the album offered seven songs, six of which were written by Willie and William Brown and one, When I’m Loving You, by Michael Cliett and David himself.  That song appeared already on the Honey Honey album.  “I really love that album.  It has the Memphis Horns on it.  My favourites are Girl I’m Coming Home to Something Good and The Best Is Yet to Come.”

  Something Good is a light and catchy dancer, whereas The Best Is Yet to Come is a smooth and emotional soul ballad, fully orchestrated.  That ballad was also released as a taster on Waylo in 1991, but it was destined to be one of the company’s last singles.  The flip was a heartfelt ballad called Dream Come True.  “There was also one song, It Makes Me Want to Cry, that I wrote with a guy by the name of Carl Wise, which they didn’t put on the album, because they released it on somebody else without our consent or recognition.”

  Carl Blue Wise: “I wrote that song on a Thursday night in my Memphis downtown condo.  I was up all night and knew that I had something special.  It came in my mind to carry that to Willie Mitchell.  I couldn’t wait until Willie got to his studio.  When I arrived around 2:00 pm, Willie was at his desk and greeted me.  I told him why I was there, and he asked me to play it for him.  I said I just wrote it and hadn’t a demo yet and he asked me to sing it to him.  I did.  He said ‘hold on, somebody get David’.  I never met David before.  Here he rushes in, and Willie says ‘David, this is Carl Blue Wise and he wrote this song Cry and I want you two to write another verse and talk about an old woman on the porch.  So here we are writing a song together and I’m sitting in Willie Mitchell’s chair.  Willie recorded our song and put it on David’s album.  For many years the album was not available and in the last few years people have tried to get the rights to put it out.  I never asked why the song was not on David’s release.  I still record at Royal Studios till this day.  The Mitchell family are like family to me and I know one day our song ‘Cry’ will get released.  It’s a masterpiece and Willie Mitchell was proud of that song and in his own words ‘David killed it’.”  You can listen to this 1990 song at MySpace -> Blueboyrecordsmemphis.

  In Pirkka’s interview in 1993 it was also briefly mentioned that David was about the get married for the first time.  David: “Yes, I got married then to a young lady, who was a very good friend of mine.  The marriage didn’t work, but we still remain good friends.”

PEACE

  Prior to the end of Waylo’s first round – Willie Mitchell re-launched Waylo in 2007 – some of the main artists on the label toured Europe in 1989.  They were accompanied by Willie Mitchell and a few of his trusted musicians, including Thomas A. Bingham on guitar, Lester Snell on keyboards, Milton Price on bass, Darrin James on drums and Charlie Chalmers on sax.  They visited Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hasselt, London and Berlin, and from those concerts they assembled a double-album, with a running time of over 90 minutes, entitled A Memphis Soul Night: Live in Europe (Waylo/MMS 903112), which in the Netherlands, for instance, was released in 1990 but back home in the States only in 1994.

  On this album, David starts his slot with a mid-to-quick-tempo medley of Do Me & Rock Me Tonight & Let’s Do It Again & Let’s Get It On & Cheating in the Next Room, which all are hit songs of the day and yesterday.  After warming the audience up with familiar melodies, David next moves on to his own recordings and starts with the self-written Let’s Get Back Together, which has a strong Al Green and Let’s Stay Together feel to it.  On this very slow number David gradually slips into a highly sentimental delivery with a lot of improvisation.  Another song from his Waylo singles, Send Her Back, is a strutting mid-pacer.

  David joins the other featured artists on the tour – Otis Clay, Lynn White and Ann Peebles – in the 22-minute energetic finale of Love & Happiness & I’m into Something I Can’t Shake Loose & Soul Man & I Wanna Testify.  Actually David had cut Love & Happiness in the studio a couple of years earlier, when he sang – albeit uncredited - a duet with Lynn White on her Love & Happiness album in 1987 (Waylo 13003).  “Willie Mitchell’s wife’s husband was managing me at the time.  I really don’t know what happened at that point, but I know that we did a duet together.”

  The very last track on Live in Europe is a studio cut.  A song called Peace is a mid-tempo trotter by all the four artists above, backed by a gospel choir.  “William Brown, who used to sing with the Mad Lads, was the engineer for Willie Mitchell.  William came up with the idea for the song, which we cut in Willie Mitchell’s studio after we did the tour.”

SOUL SKIING

  In 1994 David knocked at Ichiban’s door in Atlanta.  “When I got with Ichiban, they already had Millie Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, William Bell... everybody I can think of.  They sent me over to do ski resorts during the winter with a guy by the name of Joey Gilmore.  In the future I want to record one of Joey’s songs over, but I just want to change it a little from blues to soul.  Then, right before I got to sign the contract, Ichiban folded.  The company was going through a lot of financial turmoil.” 

  The ski resorts tour produced one European album, Live in Italy, released by the Italian Soul & Jazz Society on February 16th in 1995.  It was recorded in Bologna, at the Ruvido Club, and - besides Send Her Back - this 13-tracker contains only covers of well-known soul hits by David Hudson & the Family. “We did a lot of cover songs.  I refused to do original songs, because the musicians are not going to play the way we recorded them.  If we go on stage, and they start changing it from the way we originally recorded the song and the way I felt it, it’s really a problem for me, because I’m accustomed to doing things one way.  You don’t change things in the middle of the stream.”

  There’s also the question of playing to ski resorts tourists, who are not necessarily devoted music fans.  “I learned early in my career to give people what they want, to do songs that people are familiar with.  Then you can put your original stuff that they’ve never heard in there and you get a good chance of getting it by.  But if you just feed them with all of your original material and you’re not really well-well-well-known, it’s kind of difficult for the audience to understand that.”

SOMEONE LOVES YOU HONEY

  After the Italian album we had to wait ten years for new material from David.  “I went into a recovery facility, because I was under excessive stress.  I had a nervous breakdown.  I was experiencing a lot of drugs in my life to try to numb what I was going through with TK Records and all this stuff.  Those were the times I was really trying to get my life back on the track and trying to work on new songs.”

  David’s old TK buddy, Willie Clarke, found him working in a club called The Tree in Miami.  “It was like a bar, and it was for everybody, who came to TK to record.  You go round the corner and there you are.  The Tree was a place for barbeque, to drink and just to relax.”  In 2005 Henry Stone music released a CD entitled I Got What You Want, which combined the 1980 To You Honey Honey with Love album with eight new songs.  “Willie Clarke came with the idea.  We started from scratch, fresh stuff for the album.”

  The first part of the CD consists of the eight tracks from that 25-year old album, including the mellow and haunting title ballad (Honey Honey), the tuneful and downtempo I Have Never Loved a Woman, the soft When I’m Lovin’ You and another atmospheric ballad called I Must Have Your LoveScratch My Back is a humorous mid-tempo roller - with even a rock guitar solo in the middle – while Ease Up and Pump It were targeted at discos.

  The new tracks were recorded between 2002 and ’04, and Willie Clarke was in charge of the production.  Together with such musicians as George “Chocolate” Perry (bass), Warren “Roach” Thompson, Julio Ferrer (guitars) and Audrie Taylor (a keyboard player from Jamaica) they created and cut such new songs as a beat-ballad with determination called Why, a meditating slowie named With Every Beat of My Heart and another song written by David, a scurrying mid-pacer titled She’s Bad As Can Be.  

  Among familiar songs there were a melodic big ballad named A Sometime Kind of Thing, which Betty Wright had released on Alston in 1977, and You Are My Life, a smooth ballad that had appeared on Billy Always’ album Let’s Get Personal on Waylo in 1990.  The standard Unchained Melody gets a relaxed reggae treatment, which may sound odd at first but comes off quite enjoyable in the end.  The cream cut, however, is a beautiful and emotional ballad called Someone Loves You Honey, written by David with Steve Daniels and Willie Clarke.

  In 2006 David visited on a CD called Gwen McCrae Sings TK (Henry Stone Music 6001-2) and sang a duet with her on Honey Honey.  However, as a whole David isn’t very pleased with the marketing of his Miami product.  “On the internet I’m going to have people stop buying my songs from Henry Stone.  He hasn’t paid me a dime, and he’s still selling my music.  I’m going to put a stop on that.  I appreciate what he has done, but I don’t think it’s fair for him to release the same song and make money without any compensation for the performance rights.  I’m in litigation with TK Records right now.  I recorded that album, I Got What You Want, with Willie Clarke, and he took it to Henry Stone.  I didn’t record it with Henry Stone.  Willie didn’t tell me about the company until we finished the project.”

FEELS SO GOOD

  David’s latest CD, Feels So Good (BLA 3001), was put out on Rick Lucas’ Blast label.  “Blast is a Chicago label.  Rick Lucas is out of Chicago, but he’s lived in Miami for a number of years, and that’s how he and I met.  It was cut in Hollywood, Florida, at George ‘Chocolate’ Perry’s studio, Titan Tracks.  Latimore is the co-producer on this album.  Latt, Rick Lucas and I used to get together as a team and work on songs.  We had worked on maybe six of these songs prior to me moving back to Atlanta.  Back in Atlanta I went to a recovering place and, while I was recovering, Rick got in touch with me, and I found out that he and Latt were still working together, and that’s how that album came about.”

  On the cover of the CD it reads “reloaded”.  “The album is about four years old now, so they went back and redid the album.  The CD hasn’t been officially released.  I’m trying to do something about that this year, because it’s a very good album.  I’m hoping that by May-June everything’s been taking care of.  I would love to move that album.”

  Besides Benny Latimore, on this 12-track CD the producers and main writers are George Perry and Rick Lucas.  Michael Cliett co-wrote two songs - the title tune, which is an Al Green type of a mid-tempo and catchy dancer, and a fast beater named I’m Coming Home.  David himself wrote the slow and atmospheric I’m in Love, which was the song for his fiancée Juanita at Porretta.  “I originally wrote the song as a gospel song, but before going into the studio I had to change it, because of the love theme of the CD.”

  Besides those already mentioned, David’s personal favourites on the CD are the slow and urban (!) 7-Day Love, the uptempo Hot Mama with a simple groove and an easy dancer titled Still Got a Friend.  Worth mentioning are still a smooth and romantic ballad called Lady Love and the slow and poignant What I’m Going ThruWe Ain’t Thru Yet is also a soul ballad but with more power. 

OPHELIA

  I’m doing a gospel project now.  I have pretty much completed four songs and I’m trying to put at least twelve songs on there.  My son, David James Hudson, Jr. – who also uses the name David Hudson – is a gospel singer, and we’re in the process of doing some stuff together, because I’d love him to either sing on the album with me, or write a couple of songs for me.”

  My own company is called Mrs. Ophelia Son Music.  Ophelia is my mother’s name.  I’m working with Chocolate Perry, Michael Cliett and a brother by the name of Sam Hutchinson.”  George “Chocolate” Perry is a renowned producer and bass player, who over the years has worked with practically all the TK artists, Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Joe Walsh, to name a few.  Sam used to live in Germany and had a band of his own over there.

  “We have several young artists that want to work with us.  I’m going to try and sign them at least for like three years.  The first year is to get them exposed, the second year I’m going to make them learn about the business and the third year to let them grow on their own.  I’m not trying to control like the other companies do.”

  “I’d still like to say that I’m very honoured to be here at Porretta.  This is the first time in my career that I’m headlining.  It happened in Porretta, which is one of the greatest cities in the world for festivals.”


Heikki and David, photo by Juhani Laikkoja

DISCOGRAPHY

SINGLES

(label # / titles / Billboard # soul / hot / year)

ALSTON

3741) Must I Kill Her / I Get Turned On (1978)

3746) Pump It / Let Me Wrap You In My Love (1979)

3750) Honey Honey (# 37 / 59) / Come On Back Baby (1980)

3752) I Have Never Loved A Woman / Scratch My Back

BOUND SOUND

1009) Different Lady / How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (1984)

WAYLO

3008) Just A Feelin / Let’s Get Back Together (1986)

3012) Now That Love Is Gone / Stay With Me (1987)

3014) You Make Me Feel (So Good Inside) / Love In The Fast Lane (1988)

3020) Send Her Back / That’s What Dreams Are Made Of

16001) The Best Is Yet To Come / Dream Come True (1991)

SOUL JUNCTION

504) (Girl I’m Coming Home To) Something Good (2009)

ALBUMS

(title / label # / year)

TO YOU HONEY HONEY WITH LOVE (Alston 4412) 1980

Honey Honey / When I’m Lovin’ You / I Have Never Loved A Woman (The Way I Love You) / I Must Have Your Love // Ease Up / Let Me Wrap You In My Love / Scratch My Back / Pump It

NITE & DAY (Waylo 13006) 1987

Trans-Lover / You Make Me Feel (So Good Inside) / Thin Line / Now That Love Is Gone // Just A Feeling / Nite & Day / That’s What Dreams Are Made Of / Let’s Get Back Together

A MEMPHIS SOUL NIGHT / LIVE IN EUROPE (Waylo/MMS, CD-903112) 1990/94

Medley: Do Me & Rock Me Tonight & Let’s Do It Again & Let’s Get It On & Cheating In The Next Room / Let’s Get Back Together / Send Her Back / Finale: Love & Happiness & (I’m Into Something I Can’t) Shake Loose / Soul Man & I Wanna Testify (with Otis Clay, Lynn White and Ann Peebles) / Peace (with Otis Clay, Lynn White and Ann Peebles)

LIVE IN ITALY (Soul & Jazz Society; Italy) 1995

Funky Broadway / Medley: Do Me & Rock Me Tonight & Let’s Do It Again & Let’s Get It On & Cheating In The Next Room / Send Her Back / She´s A Bad Mama Jama / That’s The Way I Feel About Cha / Can I Change My Mind/ Me And Mrs. Jones / Papa Was A Rolling Stone / Who’s Making Love / Easy / What’s Going On / Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag / You Got The Love

I GOT WHAT YOU WANT (Henry Stone Music 5014) 2005

Honey Honey / I Have Never Loved A Woman / When I’m Lovin’ You / Let Me Wrap You In My Love / I Must Have Your Love / Scratch My Back / Ease Up / Pump It // Unchained Melody (Miami Reggae) / Why / I Got What You Want / You Are My Life / Someone Loves You Honey / A Sometime Kind Of Thing / With Every Beat Of My Heart / She’s Bad As Can Be / Someone Loves You Honey (remix)

THE ROYAL SESSIONS (Soul Junction, SJLP5002; U.K.) 2010

(Girl I’m Coming Home To) Something Good / Let’s Make Love / Be That Way Sometimes / You’re My Dream Come True // When I’m Loving You / All My Love / (Girl I’m Coming Home To) Something Good (radio edit) / The Best Is Yet To Come

FEELS SO GOOD (Blast, BLA 3001)

I’m Coming Home / 7-Day Love / What I’m Going Thru / Still Got A Friend / I’m In Love / Different Lady / Feels So Good / Hot Mama / Lady Love / Shame-Shame / How Can We Be Lovers / We Ain’t Thru Yet

..............................

Interviews conducted on July 20 in 2013 and January 25 in 2014.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to

David Hudson, Carl Blue Wise, Graziano Uliani, Pirkka Kivenheimo, David Cole/ITB and Juhani Laikkoja.

© Heikki Suosalo





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