You grew up in rural Alabama in the ’40s and ’50s, which doesn’t seem like a time or a place that would really lend itself to someone being immersed in soul music. Where’d your love for soul music come from?
Where I heard it first and heard it most was on the radio on WLAC up there in Nashville with John R. They played nothing but black music at night. Not only I heard it, but the whole South heard it. If you weren’t listening to WLAC, something was wrong with you. It was that good. They played everything from black spirituals to all the blues cats and some R&B, too.
What about your family? Were they musical?
Yeah, before any of that there was church. Daddy led the singin’ and momma played the piano. I sat on the front row and hollered.
Did they encourage you to sing in the choir or learn an instrument?
Not really. But Daddy showed me when I finally aggravated him so long. He said, “Come here, I’ll show you the chords.” So he taught me the rudimentary chords and that’s about all I know today.