You may have seen in our last post that among the multiple award recipients at last week’s annual Blues Music Awards was the late soul-blues crooner Otis Clay, whose wins in the soul male artist and soul blues album (for his collaboration with Billy Price on This Time for Real) categories were, believe it or not, his first Blues Music Awards in a long and distinguished musical career that, in addition to blues, R&B, and soul, was also largely rooted in gospel, an influence to which Clay returned often throughout the decades.
Such is the case with this track, for which Clay’s vocals were actually recorded during the sessions for his 2014 Soul Brothers collaboration with friend and fellow soulman Johnny Rawls. The plan was to include the song – one of Clay’s favorites – on his next solo album, a project that unfortunately never came to fruition before the legend’s passing this January at age 73.
Not wanting to see such a good thing go to waste, Catfood Records’ Bob Trenchard enlisted Rawls and a few others to help complete the track, with Trenchard on bass, Johnny McGhee on guitar, and Rawls producing as well as providing both percussion and background vocals along with neo-soul artist Janelle Thompson. The result was a fittingly beautiful and fulfilling note by which to remember Clay, a gospel song with a raw blues edge that embodies both the spirit and career of this Mississippi boy.
We weren’t able to catch Clay when he visited Pittsburgh to perform with Price at the Rex Theater last fall, but here’s a great medley from that show that also starts on a bit of a spiritual note: