- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Soul gold

In town today to host Grammys on the Hill, the recording industry’s annual salute to friendly legislators, as well as chat up his new CD, “Overnight Sensational,” original “Soul Man” Sam Moore reminisced about the good old days and offered advice to today’s rising stars.

“Learn your craft. We not only learned to sing, we learned how to walk onstage,” recalls Mr. Moore, who partnered in the legendary Stax vocal duo Sam and Dave with Dave Prater Jr., who was killed in a car crash in 1988. “You learned how to be a better singer — or a better singer than the person who went onstage before you.

“Make sure you have good material. If you’ve got a voice as good as Gladys [Knight] or Aretha [Franklin], don’t let the record company tell you that you have to have a hip-hop version of your song. And don’t let ‘em put you on the stage with a skirt up around your neck.”

Talk of skimpy attire led Mr. Moore to voice his disdain for music videos filled with sexual scenarios and explicit lyrics. “They disrespect our temples; that’s how I view our women — as temples,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer says.

“I’m no prude. We certainly weren’t choirboys,” says Mr. Moore, who turns 71 next month and acknowledges a daughter born in the District to a girlfriend he was seeing during a long-ago engagement at the Howard Theater. “We all lied to our wives and our girlfriends — Dave, James Brown, Jackie Wilson. But you know what? We learned from that and left something for people to learn from today.”

One thing missing, he says, is a lack of knowledge among today’s young performers about music pioneers. “I’ve seen people on TV saying Aretha Franklin is their idol or Billie Holiday is their idol, but when asked, they can’t tell you anything about their history or about the records they made,” he says.

“Overnight Sensational” — released last week and produced by “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson — melds the new with the old, featuring Mr. Moore on a dozen soul classics with current superstars, including Bruce Springsteen, Wynonna, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting, Steve Winwood, Robert Randolph, season three “Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino and the late Billy Preston.

On the disc, Mr. Preston, who was managed by Mr. Moore’s wife, Joyce, plays keyboards on a cover of “I Can’t Stand the Rain” (sung by Mr. Moore and Wynonna). “That was Billy’s last performance — him playing the keyboards — but we didn’t know it at the time,” Mr. Moore says.

The “Fifth Beatle” also performs his most famous composition, “You Are So Beautiful” (originally recorded by Joe Cocker) in a touching duet with Mr. Moore. “When it came time for ‘You Are So Beautiful,’ we used an earlier recording no one knew [Mr. Preston] had made except my wife,” Mr. Moore explains. “When Ray Charles recorded ‘Genius Loves Company,’ he sounded sick. I didn’t want Billy to sound sick. He was one of the greatest keyboardists and entertainers who ever lived, and he never got the respect he deserved.”

Jail time for Isley

A judge sentenced R&B; singer Ronald Isley, 65, to three years and one month in prison for tax evasion on Friday, MTV.com reports. The leader of the Isley Brothers also was ordered to pay $3.1 million in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Isley — who, his attorney says, suffers from complications from a stroke and a recent bout with kidney cancer — was convicted last year of five counts of tax evasion and one count of willful failure to file a tax return. His lawyer, Anthony Alexander, argued for probation because of Mr. Isley’s recent health problems and his attempts to pay down the IRS debt, but the judge in the case refused, saying, “the term ‘serial tax avoider’ has been used. I think that’s appropriate.”

Twofer for Diddy

Hip-hop impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs is making room for two more in his posse, Reuters news agency reports.

The music producer, fashion mogul and restaurateur is expecting twins with his longtime girlfriend, former model Kim Porter, his spokeswoman said yesterday. She had no more information on the twins’ gender, whether they are fraternal or identical, or when they are due.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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