There's something in that voice.
First time listening to a Bobby G. recording, you may notice something unique. Bobby's voice has a timing of its own. Like so many great southern-slow-cooked blues singers, Bobby often delivers the tune with a gentle drag, just a precious heartbeat behind the drum beat. Why? Because he's listening to the band, not just driving it.
About Bobby G.
Falling into the groove of the music means the singer feels it deeply, that he is giving room for the spirit to pass from him to the listener. And the moment of presence that comes at the beginning of each line of his songs is where Bobby lets himself get pulled back to his roots.
Bobby was born Robert Lee Gray in a place with an oxymoron name if there ever was one: Winterville, Mississippi. It’s a place where Christmas Day temps are often in the 70s, and you can only find it on the most detailed maps. Winterville is today unincorporated with no official population, known only for the nearby ancient Native American mounds.
But for a young Bobby, in the 1950s, it was a place to work. He went into the cotton fields at age seven. Within four years, as he tells it, he was looking for relief from the hard work by hanging out in juke joints. There, he saw blues masters plying their trade and knew that was what he had to do, no matter how long it would take.
One day, an uncle visited from Toledo, Ohio. As he got in his car to drive back up north, Bobby jumped in with him. When he became an adult, he found a job with the city government and hung on to it for forty years. But he also found his chance to sing, thanks to no shortage of local venues and a music scene known for its support of the blues. Fronting more bands over the decades than you could count, Bobby became what one local veteran musician called “the number one entertainer in town.” Recording, though, eluded him.
Then came the launch of Third Street Cigar Records. Bobby finally got the chance to make a record that would have a chance to be heard by more than a few. Still Standing, cut when Bobby had already turned 73, was the label’s very first release, and came with the backing of Ohio blues aces like Curtis Grant Jr., ‘Hi-Fi’ Newmark, and Larry Gold. Then there were the tunes… Johnny Rawls, just starting his association with the label, brought the songs from his own notebook, crafted them to fit Bobby’s persona, and oversaw the sessions. So, while he waited a long, long time to see his name on a globally released album, Bobby G. was among the A-listers when he did.
The winning combination was repeated a year later, this time with a little fatter sound, when Bobby recorded Ph.D In The Blues. Blues Matters! magazine said it was an album that “delivers in all areas, but the icing is that fabulous voice.” It’s the experiences that shape Bobby G’s singing, but it’s the way Bobby holds the moment in every note that makes it sound so very true.
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