Candi Staton: As Sweet As Ever
June 1977 interview
By David Nathan
Candi: sweet as ever, but "I can run producers up the wall!"
TO SAY THAT Ms. Candi Staton is happy at the success of “Young Hearts Run Free” would indeed, be an understatement. She's positively jubilant! "It's a great feeling and I'm very happy about it, naturally!" stated the lady when we tracked her down in her home just outside Washington D.C. She'd just returned from California where she's been putting the finishing touches to a new album and was more than happy to talk about it. "Well, I guess you could say that this album will be somewhat different from the last one," Candi states. "Bob Monaco, the guy who produced the early Rufus albums, did the album and we've oriented it purposely towards a larger, crossover kind of audience. The material includes several originals, but we've also put our versions of songs like The Bee Gees' 'Nights On Broadway', the Doobies' 'Listen To The Music' and the country song, 'Before The Next Teardrop Falls' which Freddy Fender did — I always like to include something country in there, you know! Anyway, the album will probably be called 'Music Speaks Louder Than Words' and it also includes our recent single 'Dreamer Of A Dream' which seems to be doing very well for us right now. I have to confess that I feel better about this album than did about the last one. Not that there was anything wrong with that one!
Candi reflects, "Working with [producer} Dave Crawford [on the 'Young Hearts Run Free' LP) was a very enjoyable experience — he's a very warm human being. I guess the difference between Bob and Dave is that Dave is also into songwriting, whereas Bob isn't. Consequently, with Bob, it leaves the field more wide open for material, we can scope around more. But I was very happy with the 'Young Hearts' album, although I still feel I could have done better on it myself. You know, we were under some pressure to get it done — so there were things which I felt that I could have done better vocally. But it was a good experience — working out there in California. In fact, I enjoyed this album too because we did it out there. You see, up until 'Young Hearts' I had recorded in Muscle Shoals, which was fine except that when you left the studios there was no atmosphere in any way connected with music. In Los Angeles, there are so many creative people that an atmosphere of creativity is generated — it's music country, really. So I sure did enjoy it!"
"Young Hearts Run Free" gave Candi's career a definite boost, since prior to that, she'd only recorded one album for Warner Bros., with whom she signed in 1974. "We did the album 'Candi' with Rick Hall, who had produced me on many things up until then. And then, after that, yes, there was a big silence. Because, frankly, the chemistry wasn't working between us anymore," explains Candi. "We were still tied legally, so we had to sort out all the contractual situations and so on and it meant that I had to wait till we could find a producer with whom I could work who would really be into what I wanted. Sure, it didn't help being without a record out there. It never does, because the market is just so competitive that if you suffer in any way from lack of consistency, you will have a problem, because people forget. Fortunately, when we came through with 'Young. Hearts' people remembered again!"
Candi says that one of the things she's really eager to get into is producing herself. "I'd really like to do that because I feel that after all these years, I'd have a good idea of what to do. It's usually hard for people to be objective about their own work but I try to look at everything I do objectively, as if it were another person doing it. And that makes me very self-critical. Believe me, I can run producers up the wall wanting to go over something again and again, because I always feel that I could do better!"
To that end. Candi has made one of her major objectives for the future to get her own recording studio. "It's impossible to be able to expand creatively, when you have a lot of pressure. It's like trying to do an album in five minutes — it just doesn't work. I want to get far more into writing myself — I hope to have some songs on our next album — and then eventually. I see myself producing other acts because I've always been something of a good talent scout. But to make all those things work. I'd have to have my own studio to create in. So you could say that one of the reason reasons that I'm working so hard now is towards that goal — to have my own studio."
Working hard is something at Ms. Staton's been doing for quite some time now. "Yes, I've spent most of the last eight or nine years on the road for at least seven months on the road — in some cases, more! And it becomes frankly very exhausting. It's not just the physical aspect, it's the mental exhaustion of trying to hold everything together — musicians, work, records. It can really wear you out! So, ever since 'Young Hearts', I've been really taking stock about what I want to do with my career. Now, I'm building a career rather than just doing dates when they come up or when we have records out. After the record did so well last year, I decided it was time to buckle down and really work at it as a career. It's not just about having records out there all the time. It's planning your career properly, working at it. So now I'm selective about what I do and we've tried to stay away from the South just for this year. You can get caught up in a rut playing one basic area for years at a time and last year, we started to venture out, do more Eastern dates and that brings you in contact with a whole lot of entertainers too. Being around class acts, that makes a big difference, it keeps you on your toes."
You could never accuse Candi of being anything other than on her toes! "I'm gonna slow down a little now — just work on dates that will be beneficial career-wise. But I guess I'll never be completely satisfied and that's what will keep me going in the business. Because there's no way I can say when I'll just stop!" Which is good news for all and sundry, especially Candi's European fans, who've never gotten the chance to see the lady in person yet! "Wow, I really hope we can work it out for me to get over there later this year even if it's only for promotion. "I was supposed to get there six years ago, you know. I had my passport ready and everything but it just didn't happen and I've been renewing my passport ever since! Maybe I'll finally get to use it this year!"
To which we're sure everyone will say "Amen!"