Bishop Joe Simon - There's A God Somewhere
There's A God Somewhere
Well, the word is out. Bishop Joe Simon will be headlining the 21st Annual Soul Festival in Porretta Terme, Italy this coming July. Considered one of the premier events of the European summer concert season, this year's lineup will also feature Etta James, Mabel John and Sugar Pie DeSanto in what promises to be some show! As I'm sure you know, Joe Simon was one of the true superstars of Soul, with no less then 48 appearances on Billboard's R&B chart between 1965 and 1981, including 38 that reached the top forty, 12 that broke into the top ten, and 3 number one smash hits... wow!
An absolute natural, to say that he was the 'real deal' would be an understatement. I've featured Joe a couple of times on The B Side, and he's been a major part of our Case Five investigation over at soul detective on Allen Orange and Sound Stage 7. In the early eighties, Simon walked away from R&B, and devoted his life to God. He is quoted on his excellent MySpace page as saying "My greatest joy in life was the day I met Christ." Over the years, he has built the Bishop Joe Simon Ministries Community Crusade into a positive global force that invites those of us in need to "Make Your Future Better Than Your Past - Reach Out for Help and Reach Up to Life."
I was completely amazed when I received an email last week asking me to contact Bishop Simon! No stranger to the world wide web, he had visited my site and read what I had written about all of the people he used to work with back in his Nashville days. He had lost track of everybody years ago, he said, and was looking to try and re-connect. I'm happy to report that I was able to get him back in touch with our man Bob Wilson, who was the keyboard man and session leader on so many of Simon's big records. Such is the power of the internet, folks!
Bishop Simon was kind enough to speak with me at length about his days as an R&B powerhouse, and his partnership with the legendary John R, who was the man behind his meteoric rise to the top. Above all, however, it was all about that voice. Simon's smoky velvet baritone, his soaring soulful delivery, carved out a unique place in the history of R&B. I'll tell you what, this excellent selection we have here today shows that he's still got it, man. The vocals are every bit as powerful as they were back then. Isn't it great to hear him singing like that again! This track is taken from the phenomenal Gospel album he recorded in 2006 for Parliament Records, Time To Change, available both on CD, and as a digital download on his MySpace page. Go ahead and buy one.
As a part of Bishop Simon's Community Crusade, he has become involved with the Avenue D Boys Choir, a heroic group of young men from Fort Pierce, Florida whose after school program has provided an alternative to the mean streets around them. After performing with the Choir several times down on the 'Treasure Coast', he invited them to Chicago to record with him. Simon would now like to bring the Boys to Italy to sing with him at Porretta. If you would like to donate something, however small, to help make that dream a reality, please contact:
The Bishop Joe Simon Community Crusade/Avenue D Boys Choir
PO Box 2046
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
I asked Bishop Simon if he will be performing any of his 'secular' R&B material at the festival... he's not talking.