Often touted as one of the last of the great soul singers, this week’s Riffs & Rhymes classic artist is “The Reverend,” Al Green.
During his upbringing, Green set a new standard for an entire genre that went far beyond his ability to top charts. His incomparable voice could be described as the perfect mix between Memphis and Motown, rivaling that of artists such as Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin.
Green’s biggest success came through a series of hit singles he released in the early 1970s which included his signature song “Let’s Stay Together.” Prior to his six straight Top 10 singles, Green had a fateful crossing with producer and performer, Willie Mitchell, which ultimately led to Green’s first record deal and his 1971 breakthrough song “Tired of Being Alone,” a track later recognized by Rolling Stone as number 65 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
By the late ‘70s, Green had openly began to display more religious themes in his recordings, further expressing the ultimate contradiction of soul music: the tension between sex and God.
In his autobiography, Green called his 1978 release, “The Belle Album,” ‘the most important release of my life.’ Deeper into the 1980s, Green continued to record music to inspire people’s faith and spent a lot of time serving as a pastor at his church.
Although he reverted to more traditional soul music in the 1990s, to this day, you can still find him in Memphis, singing and preaching the gospel at Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, belting out lyrics with the same passion-fueled fire that lit up the ‘70s R&B/Soul charts.