With yet another major hurricane making its way through Louisiana, I found it appropriate to celebrate a single from this home to a number of great funk and soul acts this week.
Like a number of his contemporaries, Bobby Powell got his start singing in local church and gospel groups. He would carry this influence with him throughout the course of his career, which began in 1965 and continued well into the 90’s. His earliest recordings were for the Whit label, which was run by Lionel Whitfield, out of Shreveport, Louisiana. It was at this time that he would also see his greatest success, as his 1965 remake of blues standard, C.C. Rider, hit #1 on the Cash Box R&B charts. While recording for Whit, he also reached the charts with a few more singles, including today’s selection, I’m Gonna Leave You, which reached #34 on the R&B charts in 1966. Unlike his bluesy singles recorded for Whit in 1965, by 1966 Powell had begun infusing biting blues guitar, his down-home gospel-soul voice, and a tight, snapping rhythm section to create some seriously funky music, as evidenced by today’s selection. All in all, Bobby Powell’s funky sound is quite different from that of New Orleans greats like Eddie Bo and The Meters, but is no less important in demonstrating the significance of Louisiana music, not only in the history of funk and soul, but when considering American music in general.
Be sure to tune in Friday for volume 006 of Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio