Local Current Blog

The dynamic and incredible life of Sonny Knight, told in his own words

Sonny Knight performing at the Current's birthday party in 2013 (Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR)

The Twin Cities music community was dealt a hard blow this weekend with the passing of Sonny Knight, an endlessly charismatic and powerful soul singer whose history on local stages dates all the way back to the early 1960s. From cutting his first 45 as Little Sonny Knight back in 1965 to recording his final album with the Lakers this past fall, Sonny’s experiences span almost the entire time that soul music has been captured on tape in the state of Minnesota.

One of the things that’s managed to comfort me since learning about Sonny’s passing has been remembering back to all of the times I was able to speak with him about his memories and hear his stories. I’ve gotten a chance to interview Sonny several times over the past four years, here in the Current’s studios and also while researching my book about the Twin Cities funk and soul scene and the roots of the Minneapolis Sound. Today, I’d like to share a deep-diving, career-spanning interview that I conducted with Sonny in the spring of 2015 as part of my book research; though small portions will appear in the text of the book, the majority of it has been sitting unpublished in my notes until now.

When I asked Sonny to do the interview, he suggested that we meet at the entrance to the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, so we could walk through the rows of carefully preserved houses and contemplate the ways our society chooses to preserve some histories and forget others. Sonny was deeply thoughtful like that — and kind, too. He would greet me with a hug every time I saw him, and kept making sure I was getting what I needed for this interview and every other one we did together.

As we sat on a park bench and looked down the row of old railroad houses, Sonny walked me through his life story, touching on many of the different musical projects he’s been involved with over the years and sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way. Sometimes while telling a story, he couldn’t help but break out into song. At times I had to pinch myself that such a sweet soul man was quietly serenading me there on that bench as we watched the birds fly overhead and squirrels run past.

The interview is a long one — we ended up talking for nearly two hours — but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving anything out. I hope you’ll find it as enlightening as I did.

Andrea Swensson: I was curious, first of all, how you ended up in Minnesota. You moved here with your grandmother?

Sonny Knight: Yeah. It was back in the ‘50s. I would say it must have been about ’55 that I moved from Mississippi up to here, and that was with my grandmother. It was a good thing. I enjoyed leaving Mississippi. It gives you more room to grow up here.

What were some of the differences you noticed right away when you got here?

One of the things, being a kid, was you come from down south, you come from red clay. The dirt is red. And then you come up here, it’s black dirt and big old black ants and stuff like that. The day-to-day living, the neighborhoods, it was everybody in the neighborhood; it’s not just one color of people in the neighborhood.

What area of St. Paul did you live in?

Pretty much over I would say like the Selby-Dale area, between University and Selby, in that area there.

So Rondo?

Yeah, Rondo.

When I have heard stories about Rondo I get the sense that everybody knew everybody, like it was kind of a small town within a city. Did you get to know your neighbors well?

The only part of Rondo that I knew back in that day would consist of between Western and Dale Street, more or less. That was like what I knew of the black town of Rondo, and Rondo would be like 94, kinda like down right there on 94. [There were] a lot of juke joints and different things, and business was going along over there on Rondo. I went to school at McKinley grade school, which was near Mackubin and Concordia — which used to be Mackubin and Rondo, back in the day.

When you started getting interested in music, did you go out to any of the clubs around there?

Nah, I didn’t do too much clubbing or anything like that. When I started singing with these cats, I just got into some of the halls that they would rent — these were the only things that I could basically get into. I remember playing some gigs at the University of Minnesota for some sorority house deals back in the day, but not really into the clubs. I could go into The Western Lounge, which was on Western and St. Anthony over there, and they had the best Coney Island – oh my god. You could get maybe seven of them for a dollar. At that point in time I did manage to see – what was his name – a blues guy. Jimmy Reed. I did get to see him up there in the Western Lounge. But I really couldn’t get into the other places. I was too young.

If you didn’t have access to see much live music, what made you wanna do it? What was your inspiration?

Television. You look at Elvis Presley up on television doing what he does, and I guess if music is in you, that’s gonna be what you wanna do. And then gospel – going to church with my grandmother, you see these gospel cats playing guitars and you know you can see the spirit is moving somebody, and they’re just jammin’ and they’re doin’ what they’re doin’. So yeah, there was something in music that way. Then I’d listen to the phonograph. My aunt had gospel records. She had old Sam Cooke records, Otis Redding. So that kind of got music in me, and then the doo-wop days – you’re hanging out the guys and you’re [starts singing “there goes my baby”], like sitting here in the park or something like that, and cats get together and they start singing. So it was those things, too, that got me going. Cats like Herman Jones [of the Exciters], he used to live kinda across the street kitty corner from me down on Central and Arundel back in the day.

Did you know him well?

Yeah, I knew him back in the days. People started putting bands together at that point in time that I had joined The Bluejays, and then I started noticing the other bands that were out and about playing and doing different things. Then I graduated from that into other bands — Soul Sensation, which ended up turning into Haze.

I noticed that on the 45 you recorded back in the ‘60s, it said “Sonny Knight and the Cymbals.” Is that different from The Bluejays?

The Cymbals was these other three guys that came along and did just the background singing on that song that I had, so they put “Sonny Knight and the Cymbals.” But the band was The Bluejays. That’s who I was with, and these guys, The Cymbals, they came in, they laid down the tracks, but we never did go out and perform together.

How did you meet your Bluejays bandmates?

It was back in the day where you could get these little reel-to-reel recorders for about $20, so my aunt got me one and I was messin’ around with it at home, and I got to singing on it. And then a friend of mine that I went to school with came by my house, and I was playing it for him and he heard it and said, “That sounds cool, man. That you singin’?” “Yeah, that’s me.” “You can sing!” Blah blah blah, and next thing you know, “Hey, man, you oughtta come and check out my brother’s band.” So we checked it out and they had me audition for the band, and then next thing you know I got the job. But I was auditioning against another cat that was kind of a rough dude in the neighborhood, and I’m like is this cat gonna beat my butt because I beat him out or what? But, no, it worked out real cool. I ended up with them guys and we started playing little things here and there, and that gave me a little more experience into playing, understanding singing, getting out a little bit more into the music world.

What years were you active in that group?

I’m gonna say ’64 maybe, because I joined the military in ’66. I had just turned 18 then. So I’m gonna say about ’64.

And then you made the record in ’65?

Yeah. Then everybody went military-bound, more or less, and done their thing, and that was the end of the band. Then I got out of the military and I ended up with Haze and started doing things with him.

What year did you come back?

Got back in ’69.

So you were gone about three years. What would you say changed about the music scene in that time?

What changed? It went from doo-wop to more like Sly and The Family Stone — [starts singing “Dance to the Music”] — Woodstock, Joan Baez, all this other stuff started happening then, kind of a changing of things. Everybody was revolutionaries and right on, peace and flower power.

I know there was a lot going on with the venues in the late ‘60s too — black music venues trying to move into downtown and then getting shut down.

I don’t like to say things about people and things, but I guess it’s what it is. Mostly white cats got the good gigs at different clubs and things like that. Our case, there was like basement parties you start off playing at — whatever things you could get into, which we called like a chitlin circuit, where it was mostly black people playing.

The chitlin circuit — how would you describe that?

Lower class places where black folks go, not really paying a lot of monies for anything. It’s like what’s left of the hog. This is what you get. It’s not the big ham or the bacon or anything like that. It’s the chitlins of that, so the lower class, in the bowels of everything. Those were the kind of places that we were playing. And then to get a crossover of things going on, at that point in time the Commodores, Earth, Wind and Fire and different things like that was coming on. That was more of a crossover of music, and a lot of people of all colors were into those kinds of music, and then boom, up popped disco and stuff like that. I think I’m moving a little too fast here.

I definitely want to talk about Haze before we get to disco. So you came back in about ’69. Did you jump right back into music?

Yeah, I got back and Haze was doing a thing underneath the name of Soul Sensation, at that point in time. And I ended up rehearsing and playing a little bit with them, not really doing a whole lot, but just dibbling and dabbling into the music game, and that’s when I left and moved to the Bay area. I got out in ’69, so messed around here until like the later part of ’70, ’71, then I moved to the Bay.

How long were you there?

Maybe ’74.

And it was a totally different band when you came back.

Yeah, they had released an album, and they had this song “I Do Love My Lady,” which had hit the charts and was doing pretty doggone good. So their singer, when I got back from California, was no longer with them – Chita – I ended up taking his place. They accepted me back into it, and I just dived right into it, and it was just amazing watching them write collectively, and just kinda come together, put things together. The camaraderie of the brothers, and how everybody kinda got along, and the magic that it had, it was growing. It was just amazing, and I was really proud to be a part of it. They had more of a crossover than a lot of the other predominantly black bands that was out happening. They played more white clubs and different things — Purple Barn way out in Burnsville, and other places around.

Why did they appeal to more of a mixed audience, do you think?

I would say because all they did was a lot of original music; because maybe they had their album out and their song was on the Billboard charts. The album probably had a lot to do with it. I don’t know, because the cats ended up with The Jackson Five at the auditorium at St. Paul and all kind of stuff like that, so they had that magic. They had that fire that was goin’ on.

Was there radio here in town that would play Haze?

KUXL would play Haze. When we left to go to the East Coast, I believe it was KMOJ at that point in time, and they would be playing some of the stuff that Haze had goin’ on.

What kind of venues do you remember playing with Haze?

One of the main ones I remember that we used to have a lot of fun at was the Jockey Lounge. Jockey Lounge was down on West 7th Street just before you get ready to cross that bridge to go towards the airport, in that little shopping mall to your right, right there. And it would be packed each and every time we would play there. And they would bring in some other acts from Michigan, guys that was really hot, playin’ some good stuff. I enjoyed playing there with them, and when we went out to the East Coast we played D.C., Philadelphia and some other venues around the Philadelphia area, and did some recording in Philly. And there was the memorable days of going to California together on an old school bus, and getting out there and things not being quite what it was supposed to be —and actually were starving, trying to make ends meet. I think out of that we ended up getting a job in Lake Tahoe at Harris’s Casino. We went through a lot together – different things – traveling about here and there and stuff like that.

Sonny Knight (right) singing with Haze in the mid-1970s (Photo courtesy of Secret Stash)

Was it common at that time for bands to go to California to try to connect with the bigger music industry?

Yeah. That was why I went out there, because I was listening to Tower of Power, Sly and the Family Stone, stuff like that. And it seems like California is the place you oughta be. So I loaded up and moved to Oakland. I played with a band out there called Herbie Mem’s East Bay Band. Through Herbie I got to meet a lot of good people. I met Freddie Hubbard, Pharaoh Sanders, Larry Graham — when Larry was putting together Graham Central Station. It started out as Hot Chocolate. Sometimes in the parks and places that we would play, his band would come there and play too. That was his wife’s band, and he was managing the band. Through our drummer, I got to meet Larry and got to know him a little bit out there, and then when he took the bass player that he had in the band out and put himself there and started calling it Graham Central Station, next thing I know the San Francisco papers started writing about Graham Central Station, Larry Graham, and it took off. I go, I must be in the right place.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, that’s when a lot of the freeways were going in here. What impact did you see? I’m curious if there were any music venues closed, or any impact on the music community from the highways going in?

Yeah. It pretty much took out the Rondo scene — what old Rondo was. Sometimes that’s the sad part about up here. They tear down everything that has anything. They took out a lot of good businesses, and people kind of scattered. They’re still scattering way out to suburbia and somewhere now instead of the inner city, and then that part of the inner city — a lot of people started moving from suburbia back into the city and reclaiming those parts of Rondo, like on Selby and Dale. They used to have the Old Louisiana Restaurant there. They still got one there, but it’s nothing like what the old one used to be. The mom and pop variety stores, drug stores and different things like that, are all gone to the new modern convenience of one drugstore to serve them all or what have you. Ace Hardware now instead of mom and pop’s hardware. So a lot of things are missing and gone. People scatter.

One thing I’m really interested in, zooming out into the big picture, is musicians who influence each other over time. I’m wondering if you have any memories of either people that came up before you that you learned from in the community, or if there were young kids coming out to your shows that then started their own bands, who were learning from what you guys were doing in Haze.

I don’t know too much about people learning from us and me, but there was some cats that influenced me — like the Amazers, which was a local group with Napoleon Crayton singing the lead. That guy’s voice was phenomenal. At that point in time, what am I, 14, 15 years old? Listening to this cat singing this song, which was almost like a gospel song, “It’s You For Me,” it just makes you wanna cry it felt so good.

Other cats — like I got to meet and know Willie Weeks. Willie Weeks played with the Mystics, then he went on to play with Donnie Hathaway, Three Dog Night and all these people, and Wynonna Judd. I remember Willie back in the day; big influence. I remember Al Jarreau coming through here. I think Al Jarreau was living over in Milwaukee or something at that point in time, and I remember he came through here. Rockie Robbins, who also played with the Mystics back in the day — he also did a recording, and then the next thing you know he was on the Johnny Carson Show. So I’m like wow, look at these cats. And then Prince jumps out and starts doing his thing. This was pretty much during the time that I was with Haze, that he was evolving. And then The Time coming up and doing their thing – Alexander O’Neal and everybody getting in. And then I kinda started wondering what happened to me. Where did things go? So many cats that did so many good things as far as what was happening musically around, and it was a pretty cool thing.

Were you friends with these younger bands, Prince and The Time?

We’re friends by association in music. I never really talked a lot to Prince or anything like that. I just remember one time that we were playing at The Thunderbird Motel, which used to be out on 494, and his band was over on one side of the room of the hotel there, and our band, Haze, was on the other thing playing in another room somewhere. So that’s what I knew of him.

When would you say things wrapped up with Haze?

Whenever that thing came out in City Pages, about Haze being rediscovered and this lady found the record in the dumpster. That was pretty much the end of it right there. The rebirth of it, trying to bring it back — Google trying to come in and work with us, and cats couldn’t get it together. As time went by, they’d either grown bitter or just grew apart, I guess. That was the last time, because the conga player, Michael Lopez, came back up. He was living in Florida, so they flew him back in for this reunion deal with everybody being back together here, and he came up and we did this one little thing over at 7th Street Entry for Google. We recorded that, and then Michael went back down to Florida, and we was looking to see if things would come back together, but it just didn’t. And Michael died of pancreatic cancer. So that was that. Chita died of course a long time ago. What was that, maybe four or five years ago? Four years ago?

I think that was 2010.

Somewhere back there. So that was pretty much the end of Haze right there. We ended this thing. I’m going, like, wow man, we got a chance to come back and do it, and it was good to see everybody. I’m not a very religious person, and these cats were like whatever the lord wants us to do, blah blah blah — wait to see what He wants us to do. I’m like, man, that ain’t working for me. If the lord is gonna give you something, he sends you something down here and you said no I don’t want that, I’m waiting for this — then next thing you know there ain’t nothin’ else comin’ by for you to wait for. I was saying we need to jump on board, start letting people know we’re here and start putting some kind of show together. Let’s start doing it. And then there’s one group of guys over here saying let’s do this, and the other group of guys saying no we’re gonna do it like this. Now they’re split; and that’s what happened. I’m gonna move on. So I just went on and looking other places, and I ran into a couple of bands — people that wanted to do something and wanted to add me into it for their agenda. I was very unhappy going down that road. I guess that’s another story.

What do you mean by that? What was going on?

I’ve always believed if I’m gonna be a part of the band I’m gonna be a good soldier because I know military like that. So if I’m in the band I’m in the band, all the way, to be the best that we can be, to make the band shine and do what we do. Being in other people’s bands, I had to realize that this is their band. This is not yours. This is theirs, so they wanna do it that way, nothin’ you can do but do it that way or quit and go home. So I learned how to stick and stay. And then I learned how to try and shine whenever it was spotlight time; you get to sing the lead on this song. OK, sing your song, boom. And I tried to put everything I had into it so people could say there’s something about that guy there. I don’t know. It got to be frustrating at times dealing with people that had their own agendas. I was living like that until The Lakers came along.

I wanted to ask you about joining into the reunited Valdons – had you seen them back in the ‘70s?

Yeah, I knew of them back in the day when I was with Haze. That difference right there with them cats was they was playing a lot of cover stuff and pretty much doing things to more of a black audience instead of a crossover. They’d come out more suited up, whereas Haze would come out with stuff that we made up in our heads and had a seamstress put together, with polyester and gigantic bellbottoms; we were like Earth, Wind and Fire, whereas these cats would come out looking like The Temptations or The Stylistics or somebody of that era. Monroe Wright came to me at one point maybe 20-some years ago – he had came back from California and said he wanted to put together this group doing some Mills Brothers and Ink Spots stuff, and they called it The Bachelors. So himself, me and Maurice Young, we started doing that. I guess they used to do that way out there in California, so coming back here, we started doing that again, and for 20-some years we did that and played different venues, and that’s how I ended up getting this little spot to sing with the Valdons on that Twin Cities Funk and Soul thing. That’s how that came about.

Sonny Knight performing with the Valdons at the Current’s birthday party in 2013 (Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR)

Tell me about meeting Eric Foss. How did he come into your life?

Twin Cities Funk and Soul. Like I said, I was playing with Monroe as The Bachelors, and Eric had approached them because they had had a record out with Napoleon Crayton, and Napoleon was part of the Valdons as well. So they wanted me to fill in because Big Bill, who normally would’ve been doing that, was not able to do it. He was sick. So I said yeah, I’ll do that. I went and sat in with them, and they flew Cliff [Curtis] in, who was one of the Cymbals on my first 45. Flew him in from California because he was a Valdon back in the day, and we went down to The Current and did that little thing at MPR. And that’s how I met Eric, at that point then, when they started putting that show together at the Cedar Cultural Center. Prophets of Peace, their singer wasn’t able to do anything either, so Tony Scott asked me if I would sing one or two of their songs. I said yeah, I’d be glad to. So I ended up kinda like all over the place – I’m a Valdon, I’m a Prophet of the Peace.

So through that, and playing a couple of times at First Avenue as that Twin Cities Funk and Soul, Eric said we’re gonna put a band together behind you – you – like “That guy!” Plus, me bugging him all the time when I came home from the gym — because [Secret Stash] was right in between the gym and my house, so [I’d] stop by. I said, man, where’s this thing going? What are you, a new company or what? What’s going on with that? Can I get in on the ground level here, too? Things started growing. He and I started working on some songs, and it turned out to be The Lakers and doing what we’re doing now.

Then [the Valdons] made decisions to go and do other things. I’m going nah, I’m not gonna do that, no. For me, I didn’t want somebody else running my life like that. I wanted to have some kind of control. With Eric, it was like, it’s cool. I didn’t look at them like young cats or younger than me or anything. I just looked at them as another human being, and we’re all trying to make something work here. And I admired their energy as far as making that Twin Cities Funk and Soul thing work. I’ve been learning from them cats ever since. Pretty special guys.

What do you think it is about right now, that all of this attention has been turned back to this kind of vintage soul sound? Even when you listen to pop music now, people are trying to channel that sound.

I don’t know. Music to me is weird. Stuff has been there and been around forever, and then somebody comes along and picks it up and now all of a sudden it’s like, this is cool stuff! Some people forget about it, but it’s still there till someone comes and picks it up, brushes it off, and says, what if I put another little twist like this? It’s still the same old thing, but with a new twist.

That’s interesting to me, I guess because I didn’t experience it first hand as it was happening, but you can really see how the music evolves and people are learning from the people that came before them, adding their own thing to it.

That’s the thing, too. That’s life itself, I guess; you get mesmerized with living life from day to day. And next thing you know – I didn’t know that person never saw that, and I lived that first hand. Wow. Where did the time go? What happened? I thought these people knew all about this. Well, yeah, through reading books and things of learning that way, but yeah, I got to see that first hand. Damn, I’m ancient. I start picking on myself.

You’re not ancient. I think you’re about the same age as my dad.

Really?

Yeah.

Wow. We’re ancient.

You’re both looking really good.

That’s a good thing – blessed that way, and that’s why I try to go to the gym. I don’t know – mom and dad gave me some good genes to put on or something, and everything worked out pretty good, but I can say it’s amazing that you see so much stuff and you don’t really realize that some people ain’t even saw that or know about that.

I want to hear about the First Avenue release show for I’m Still Here, because I get the sense that that might be one of the biggest crowds that you’ve ever performed for. What were you thinking when you came out on stage and saw all those people so excited about your album coming out?

I didn’t think that they were that excited about my album or anything else like that. I wasn’t even thinking about my album. I was just scared to death.

Really?

When I came out on stage, I had no idea how many people was really out there. Because when I first came in there wasn’t a whole big crowd of people, and as they started filling in I still didn’t see it until it was time for me to come out. When it was my turn to come up on stage, I was like OK. I just lost it and went into acting, into form – what I gotta do. How do I make you move? You must be here to move, groove, do something. That’s where my focus goes. How do you make it work? How do you get people liking it? And once the motion started movin’, then it got kinda easy. I got into it and it was do or die. Just do whatever you can do. This is your show. This is your song. Don’t worry about it. Just go. And it turned out I guess to be pretty good. I was just up there having some fun.

I think it’s so cool, not only that you’re performing this music that has such a rich history, but the show is just nonstop and the energy is nonstop; you don’t see many people onstage like that. It’s like, wow.

Really?

Yeah.

That is wow, because I know sometimes up there the show will be moving so fast, and then it’s jumping around, the dancing, it’s like, I better pace myself here because it’s right out of one song into another song, and I’m trying to catch my breath. But it just tells me that if I’m kinda choking a little bit I need to get back in, get the cardio all pumped up a little bit more to keep the drive going, because that’s what people want. They want that energy. They wanna see that. They want that drive. You wanna get them to move. You don’t want people to just go get a beer or something and walk away. You want them to stay there. You want them to be a part of your show, have them jump up and down, because we can see from the stage and see people going like this [moves hand up and down].

That must be really cool to watch.

Yeah. The first time I did it was over at the Little Lake Festival, and I said, “I’m gonna call off a number when the band’s gonna hit, and when the band hits it I wanna see you guys jump and get your cardio in. Can you get it?” “Yeah!” “You got it?” “Yeah!” So now and then we’ll go and get people jumping up and down. They kinda like that. We played down in St. Peter last Saturday and we had them jumping down there. The love that the people’s been showing wherever we go has just been amazing. I guess maybe we must be doing something right, which is a blessing to get something like that going.

This whole thing is a blessing for me – being where I’m at, age-wise, each and every day that I get is a blessing. Today, to do the interview with you is another blessing – to wake up and continue down that path that we’re trying to go. I appreciate it. I appreciate waking up, life – appreciate this neighborhood being the way that it is. It’s just so much now that I feel there is to live for, versus what I went through coming up to get to this point. Did I think I would get here? Maybe yes and maybe no. It didn’t really matter. You just get beat down with so much.

It’s kinda like that guy in North Korea before he escaped. He was born in prison and he thought the guards were the high-power great people because they were guards, and they had all this freedom. He knew nothing about the outside until he escaped and got away. It’s kinda like I feel. Certain people had more power and could play in different places. I never knew anything like what I’m knowing now, that freedom of wow, there we are playing. You’re Sonny Knight. You get to come in. Your name is out there in front of the band and that’s you. You get to sit here. This is your green room. This is what’s for you. Never had that and never thought I would get that. I thought that was for the other big people. This is cool. How did this happen? I keep asking myself how did that happen. Must be doing something right. What is it? I don’t know.

It sounds like you do know, though, because you’ve seen bands that didn’t make the right choices and you have a very realistic way of looking at things.

Yeah, and again, I think it just comes back around to being humble and patient and putting in work. You think well I’m this, I’m that, I’m Sonny Knight, I’m supposed to get this – don’t mean nothin’. I’m just another person that’s still trying to make it in this world, and what I got is what I got. And I stay true to what I got because life is too precious. There’s so much energy – people walking, squirrels moving, birds flying – that’s all energy. And to be here and to sit here and enjoy that for this moment in this time now – you can’t ask for more. Tomorrow might bring you some better things, but tomorrow ain’t even here. Right now I got right now. I got this interview right now. It feels good just to be in the moment, and I try to stay in the moment.

The other good thing I think happened for me is I took money out of the equation. Where’s my money? I need to get paid for this and if I’m not getting paid for this then I can’t do this is I’m not gonna get paid. I believe enough in it to keep working this. It’ll come. Whatever’s gonna be. Que sera sera. Hey, let’s make a song of that. So when I took money out of the equation everything got really kinda cool. I mellowed out and I know that the longer I live the more I’ll understand life.

Some people are happy just going and visiting and being with their family, cutting the grass and doing that. Don’t want no more. Other people want the moon and the stars, and then they try to go after the moon and stars and then somehow get unhappy it ain’t comin’ as fast as they thought it should. I think some people fall by the wayside with that. I know I did – expecting and pursuing and thinking things should be this way or that way and it wasn’t. So I’m just grateful. I’m just hoping I have the energy to continue doing what I’m doing now for at least another 20 years. My son came to Lake Harriet bandshell and caught the show over there and he was like wow, you really inspired me – motivated me to wanna go out and become a musician. That’s really cool.

I’m just keeping it real. I’m a human being. I’m not a superstar. I’m not nobody. Prince is a human being. All these cats are. Ain’t nobody no more than you or I, but yet they’re in a position to be held like the Queen is the Queen. I don’t know. You wanna leave this world in a good way, and we all going to leave this world. You wanna get things right. And that’s kinda like how I try to live – just doing things right. I’m still here trying to make it work.

I love that song – “I’m Still Here.”

It’s a good song. It’s a real good song and I don’t know where it was coming from when we started doing it, but the fact that I’m still here to be able to sing my song and do it – that’s what matters. To be able to see my grandkids grow up – that’s what matters. My first grandchild – I have two grandkids – when my first one was born I looked at her and I thought how pure and how innocent everything is for her right now. There’s nothing she’s done that anybody can say or touch – she’s pure.

So to still be here, I guess it means like what are you gonna do with your life? Who are you? Now that you’re still here, we’re all still here, that energy is still here, drawing and just knowing what you can do – making positive things is what I’m hoping, that we can end up making people feel and do good. That’s why – hey, let’s jump.