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Interview:
Al Green Preaches the Power of Soul
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

R&B legend Al Green recorded his latest album, “Everything’s OK,” as the Rev. Al Green — which he really is, at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Baptist church in Memphis, Tenn. So Green doesn’t think it’s at all odd to make an R&B album under that moniker.

“I’ve been preaching 28 years, so what do you want me to do — deny that I’m preaching?” asks Green, 60, who began releasing gospel albums in the mid-’70s to join a soul repertoire that includes hits such as “Tired of Being Alone,” “Lets Stay Together,” “Call Me” and “Love and Happiness.”

“Everybody knows that I’m preaching. On church Sunday, I have people from Norway, Ireland, Sweden, France, California, Chicago, Vancouver. People come to find this little bitty church that don’t hold but 500 people.

“I ask on Sunday, ‘How do you all find this place?’ They say, ‘We get to the airport and ask for Al Green, and they bring us right over here.’ It’s crazy!”

Green, who lived in Detroit in the late ’60s and early ’70s — in the same Lafayette Boulevard apartment building as the Temptations and other Motown acts — can still pack ’em into concert halls, too. The new music is still flowing, including two recent releases — “Everything’s OK” and 2003’s “I Can’t Stop” — that reunited him with his longtime producer and co-writer, Willie Mitchell.

But, Green acknowledges, the hits from the early ’70s are still what bring people to the party.

“It was amazing the other day in France,” he recalls. “We start singing, ‘I’m so ...,’ and everybody goes, ‘... tired of being know it?’ And everybody cracked up — and started speaking French.

“They sing my words just fine; they’ve heard it for so long and practiced it and liked it so until they could sing the English. But after they get done singing it, they speak in their own language again. Isn’t that amazing, man?”

Al Green performs at 7:30 Friday (June 23rd) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $37.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

Web Site: www. palacenet.com.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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