Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Gedeon Luke & The People: Inspired soul time!

Gedeon Luke & The People
Gedeon Luke & The People Gedeon Luke & The People Gedeon Luke & The People Gedeon Luke & The People Gedeon Luke & The People: Brooklyn Bowl Gedeon Luke & The People: Brooklyn Bowl - Photo Dave Burke Gedeon Luke & The People: Brooklyn Bowl Gedeon Luke & The People Gedeon Luke & The People  Photo: K. Mumford

There are some people you meet and after spending time in their company you remember certain qualities or characteristics…i.e. their vivacious personality, or their wit and charm, or maybe their sensibility and steadfast nature, or even their complete showmanship and unbounded essence de la vie. All the above qualities would make interesting subject matter for any interviewer, but what if your interviewee happened to possess more than a decent helping of each of the above enthralling attributes…well ladies and gentlemen, I think I have found just that person. His name? OH, it’s Gedeon Luke.

To say I was blown-away by the talent of this one time West End “Thriller Live” performer and American Idol 2006 semi finalist, I think is an understatement. His recollection of the whole ‘Cowell experience’ though young, has obviously helped to cultivate the artist he is today. “I was 17 years old and now I’m 26, it was a great experience, I learned a lot but I’ve moved on, I’m recording my music the way I like it. I’m putting out there the message of ‘love, peace and soul’ - that’s my whole thing now.”

That’s all good, but what’s his music like I hear you ask? Well, Luke’s explanation about covers it. “I’ve got a lot of soul influences like; Al Green, Otis Redding, The Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye - it goes on and on and on…” He elaborates. “I always wanted THAT sound to still be around, because for some reason it seems like it’s drifting, that’s why (Gedeon &) The People are here. To bring it back and make it more relevant for today.”

For me, the Mayfield comparison trumps all others. “I love (Curtis) Mayfield, his whole message was just like MY message ‘love, peace and soul’. Al Green did the same thing, but WE did it (soul) in different ways. All those artists are in MY soul, in my bones and when I hit the stage and the mic, it’s like ALL those people come to me - it’s like a pot of stew, just stir it up and then you come out with ‘THE PEOPLE.’”

As tasty as it sounds, Luke’s love of authentic southern soul began at a young age, as he quickly discovered his art could aide his escape from a hard knock life. “I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and I first started singing I was 3 years old. Singing was the only thing that took me off the streets, it made me happy and stuff like that.”

A upbringing full of challenges, but family affection was never one of them, unfortunately his parents, namely his father, had a few demons to deal with at the time. “My father abused drugs a lot, he later died from complications…he was really sick and they told him he had to do dialysis, he only did it for 2 weeks and he just didn’t make it.” This tragedy would have a profound effect on Luke, with soul music coursing through his veins and his father having such a soul infused influence, having been previously signed to one of the most authentic and highly regarded soul/Blues/R&B labels in the world. There was no surprise Luke took the path he now treads - opening up on the subject of his father, Tony McKinney, and his legacy. “My father was where it all started from, my father was signed to Malaco records (iconic independent based in Jackson, Mississippi) He was signed to (Memphis producer) Willie Mitchell with Al Green - that’s where all MY hope comes from. My father, although he had a rough time with the drugs and everything, still showed us love and he loved it when we sang. He’d push us out to be true to who we are, to keep that good ol’ skool REAL down-home Memphis singing going on.”

It’s this message of positive musicality which is prevalent at every turn through our breezy sit down. “It’s ALL about the spirit, the whole band has a great spirit, there’s no negative people in the band, not one. The whole team is so upbeat, so positive, and that’s what you need when you’re on stage with a group of people. You want everybody to be upbeat and positive and high energy.” He continues on the spirit theme. ”Spirit is VERY important, the vibe, you have to have a good vibe because that comes across when you’re on stage. It feels really good when you’ve got a group of people behind you, they’re teaching you something and they’re feeding off of you and you’re feeding off of them - we all feed off the audience, the audience is feeding off of us. It’s like a big soul revolution party, a spiritual revival. That’s what I would call it.”

Watching Gedeon and The People explode into action just an hour after our chat, participating as one of the guests on the beeb’s premier live music offering, “Later with Jools Holland.” I would certainly described as energetic and some, their vibe was remarked on more than once in the studio, mostly by warm-up ‘man with a beard’ (Jools name for him) and Jools himself also passed a few similar comments. I concur the band were an absolute “live wire” that night, with a touch of James Brown / Prince in the foot work dept to boot, as the funked up proceedings to the max!

Luke on the band’s moniker and ethos. “The reason why I named my band The People was because of the audience…along with the great musicians who are in the band, the audience is a big part of our show. We like to get them involved in the songs and to clap their hands, to sing, because we feel like it should be a communal feeling. The only place where people can come together, apart from a concert, is in a church - in our show we like to clap our hands, stomp our feet and get to dancing. We like soul, we like funk, rock, soul, gospel - we just love for the people to get involved and The People are ALWAYS involved because they can’t help but to clap their hands to the beat (laughs). The audience is VERY hip, they’re always live, they always ready and they are VERY supportive - they love what we do.”

The album “Live Free & Love” is out now on Monocentric Music.

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