Everything is relative, of course, but many consider this man to be the greatest living soul singer. On top of the amazing voice and ability to interpret, Bobby Womack is a superb songwriter. He has the knack for deep lyrics as well as unforgettable melodies. On his latest album, the Damon Albarn -produced The Bravest Man In The Universe, he took a risk by singing with spare experimental electronic backing and ended up on most music papers’ “Best of 2012” list. Its follow-up is already on the way.
Born in Cleveland, Womack practically grew up in church. His father was a minister and guitarist of a Baptist congregation, where his mother played organ. At 10 Bobby started performing gospel with his four brothers. Soul legend Sam Cooke was so taken by the boys’ talent that he signed The Womack Brothers to his SAR label. Soon he changed their name to The Valentinos, because he wanted them to do secular R&B. The first hit by The Valentinos, Looking For A Love, was penned by Bobby. After The Valentinos Womack worked as a studio guitarist on records by Joe Tex, The Box Tops and Aretha Franklin, among others. Collaborating first with Janis Joplin, Sly Stone and jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo, Womack has, since the early 70’s, made loads of albums. Some of them, like Communication, Understanding, Across 110th Street and The Poet, had songs that are now classics.