Bill Withers Essentials

Bill Withers Essentials

Singer-songwriter Bill Withers took soul music in a radically introspective direction in the early '70s, reviving the world-weary storytelling of the blues and embracing the autobiographical intimacy of folk rock. Already shaped by a lifetime of racial injustice and emotional upheaval by the time he first entered the studio in his early thirties, the West Virginia-born Withers applied hard-won, humanistic wisdom to sketches of striving city dwellers ("Harlem"), estranged fathers ("I'm Her Daddy"), and anguished alcoholics ("Better Off Dead”) with a voice that could soothe or scald. Bringing that same maturity to soul's greatest subject, Withers could revel in the small moments that make love feel sublime ("Lovely Day”), capture the devastation of a relationship’s regrets ("Ain't No Sunshine”), and offer inspiration while reaching out to a friend in need (“Lean on Me”). While he passed away on March 30, 2020, Withers left an undeniable stamp on socially conscious, intimately personal R&B singer-songwriters like Anthony Hamilton and D'Angelo, freeing them to mine life's deepest pleasures and darkest pains while finding poetry in day-to-day struggle.

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