Meet the New Soul — Same as the Old Soul?


Smokey Robinson got a lot of attention—rightly so—for the finale of the SXSW keynote we did together in March. What you can find on YouTube (there’s an item below with the link) is a great entertainer giving a master class in how to be a great entertainer yourself. And it has a great punchline.

After Smokey and I left the stage, we ran into Claudette Robinson, a member of the original Miracles and his first wife. She was with my friend Judy Tint, who numbers Claudette among her many illustrious R&B legal clients, and we must have spent an hour in that hallway, talking about our mutual worlds in Detroit and since.

Judy was recruiting me to come to the panel she was doing  the next day, Meet the New Soul – Same as the Old Soul?  Claudette would be there, along with the brilliant rapper Rhymefest and Bob Davis from Soul Patrol. They were a speaker short because Al Kooper’s basement had flooded from the winter hurricane that struck the East Coast in early March. I knew I wanted to come anyway, so I volunteered to fill in.

It was probably the smartest decision I’ve made all year. Usually, panels either work as a straight-forward set of speeches or else as a direct dialogue among panelists after initial opening statements. This was a deeper kind of thing, sometimes direct dialogue but often each new speaker just added a new set of perceptions, a layer of complexity as yet unspoken. It’s a very rare thing to participate in a group conversation of this quality, let alone on a subject so important as the future of soul music.

 And now, SXSW has posted it as a podcast:

 Let me know what you think of it.

(Oh, and Judy: Thanks for the gift!)

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