Friday, April 25, 2008

Noel Gourdin: Exclusive Interview

Noel Gourdin's MySpace, Facebook and home page. Gourdin's Epic Records debut is tentatively scheduled to be released in August.

Not only is Noel Gourdin's "The River" the best new song of 2008, the ballad merits a spot alongside the greatest soul classics by Aretha, Otis, Al and Sam.

Gritty yet smooth, traditional yet comfortably contemporary, "The River" recently received a major boost with the enthusiastic endorsement of syndicated radio host Steve Harvey.

Opening with a reconstruction of Millie Jackson's "How Do You Feel the Morning After" and set to a backdrop of Mississippi's "dirt roads and Confederate flags," Gourdin's silky voice weaves a tale of lost love, faith, death and rebirth.

There Stands the Glass spoke to the Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter Thursday. Our wide-ranging discussion touched on Gourdin's fresh sound, the NBA playoffs and the artist's seemingly imminent stardom.

On the daring nature of "The River":
We felt we were taking a chance on a song like this. It's so different and so rich and so deep with meaning and expression. It's reminiscent of old soul.

On being told that "The River" is an instant classic:
You know how good that feels coming from someone like you who appreciates the old-school soul? That's incredible. For you to say "The River" is a timeless record means a lot to me.

On being on the verge of stardom:
It's surreal. It's been tremendous to see how fast we've been moving up the charts and how everyone's embracing "The River" after Steve Harvey started playing it and blowing it up. It's overwhelming.

On his Southern roots:
Ever since I can remember we would head down to Mississippi every summer because that's where my family is originally from. We'd go down there for family reunions.

I used to sit up underneath my aunts and uncles and grandparents and listen to stories about the pain and the suffering and the tribulations of not having equal opportunities back in the day like it should have been.

Every summer we'd go down South knowing that we were going to see family we hadn't seen all year, run in the watermelon patches, play with cousins and just hang out- that was a big part of my life.

On his place in today's scene:
I want to fit in where I can reach the most people. I don't particularly like to be put in a box or a category. I like to keep it wide open. This music is for everybody. There's something on the album for everybody. It's not necessarily all soul, but the whole undertone of the album is soul. Because that's what my voice is and that's what I came up listening to.

On his uncommon display of sensitivity:
There comes a time that you say what you have to say. I'm not going to hold no punches. "(As in) because I love you so much that it's just not enough- I need more."

It's unusual for a man to put that in a record. Because it's usually a woman saying that kind of thing. I'm not afraid to be vulnerable. I'm not afraid to say what other men in the industry won't say.

I'm not afraid to show my emotional side or shed a tear. If you're secure in your manhood and what you are, I have no problem doing that. I've cried on my mom's shoulder many nights-my pop's as well.

On touring:
We're definitely hitting the road in the next month or so. We're trying to make sure we have the right artist to go out with. If budgets allow, we'll have a band. My ideal thing is to have a band up there. That's how you can really touch people.

Kansas City Click: This town is truly standing on the verge of getting it on. Tech N9ne, Paul Wall and Ill Bill infiltrate the Uptown tonight.

George Clinton cooks a "Cosmic Slop" at Crossroads on Saturday.

On Sunday night, the Record Bar hosts an intriguing hip hop bill topped by Chicago's Lord 360.

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