Last week, host Bethany Dawson welcomed SoulMusic.com founder David Nathan and A&R Specialist Darone Bowers on the Soul Music podcast as they chat about how Nathan got his start in music journalism, the many artists he's interviewed and how Soul Music has evolved over the decades. Tune in below if you missed it!
ON NATHAN'S START IN PROFESSIONAL MUSIC JOURNALISM:
NATHAN: "I'd like to think of what I've accomplished in life as. The expression of doing something I and the expression of a passion. It was very organic. I did not have like, 'Oh, yo, I'm going to work in music. I'm going to be a music journalist. I'm going to meet all these people, nothing like that. In fact, you know, I had a different career path that I was going to go down, which probably wouldn't have gone so well. I wanted to be a diplomat."
"Anyway, since music is a universal language, and I somehow along the way are acquired the nickname 'British Ambassador of Soul, I figured, I kind of was able to do both, but I digress slightly. My passion for R&B as it became soul music, really had roots in, in me, you know, being in school in London. You know, the first artists that really captured my imagination, so to speak, was Dionne Warwick. A lot of times people will say, 'Well, she's not really a R&B singer, but you know, everyone doesn't have to sound like, you know, a get-down-from-the-church, though she did come from there."
"And the thing that I loved, of course, was the soulfulness in Dionne's recordings in the mid-sixties. And that led me to listening and loving the work of Nina Simone, for whom I started the first fan club in 1965 so it was all still in school, and then Aretha [Franklin] followed from that and yeah. There was never like, 'Oh, I'm going to do, I'm going to write about this for a living.'"
ON HIS FIRST PUBLICATIONS AS A FAN:
NATHAN: "I really started writing for one of the fan magazines in London, which was called, Rhythm and Soul USA, uh, and that led to me writing for Blues and Soul. At that point, I would do concert reviews. I wouldn't really be doing straight-up interviews. So I only started really doing interviews with people in the late 60's."
"Actually, I'll tell you my first cover story was really my first - I would say interview, but it wasn't a scheduled interview. Aretha [Franklin] was in England. And I had previously interacted with her before she signed with Atlantic. And so she'd been to England in '68 and I took my mom and my sisters to see her. So we had a personal rapport. And so when she came to England in 1970, I was in touch with her and went to see on Top of the Pops, which was, back then a very popular British TV show, and she sang, "Don't Play That Song," I remember at the piano and I went into it, you know, to talk to her in the dressing room. We were just talking about what she was up to."
"She just had given birth of an earlier that year, we just had a chat. We were just talking. It wasn't like, 'This is going to be an interview.' And then I called the editor of Blues and Soul and said, 'John, is Aretha doing interviews with anyone?' and he said, 'Well, no, she's not doing any press.'"
"I said, 'Well, I did have a conversation with her and you know, it was like about how her career was going. And the fact that she had had talked about the fact she just had given birth, but we also talked about what she was working on, which was an album called Spirit in the Dark. So that became a first cover story for Blues and Soul. So then I was like, okay, I liked doing this."
Listen to the rest of the podcast here.