By Michael P Coleman
You remember the songs: “Love Ballad.” “Shine On.” “On The Wings Of Love.” “Stay With Me Tonight.” “We’re Going All The Way.” And, of course, “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song).”
From his early recordings with funk band LTD, through his brilliant solo albums, Jeffrey Osborne’s music featured some of the most organically soulful arrangements of the day.
And that voice. Osborne’s instrument was — and still is — an emotive, fluid wonder.
As the artist grew artistically, he made forays into jazz, covers, and even holiday music. As great as those projects were, fans of true R & B missed him.
As if guided by some divine divining rod, Osborne has just released an excellent collection of new, old school R & B. With his brand new Worth It All album, Osborne is solidly back where he belongs and sounding as good as ever. But during our EXCLUSIVE interview, he told THE HUB that his long-awaited return to old school R & B almost didn’t happen.
“Originally, it was not supposed to be this kind of an album,” the 70 year old icon said by phone. “My last record was an album of jazz standards, and on the merit of that album, I was asked to do a smooth jazz record. As I sat down and started writing songs for the album, I realized that my writing was taking me back to my roots, back to old school R & B. I’m extremely happy with how it turned out.”
Fans of Osborne’s — and of great R & B — will be “extremely happy” as well. The album’s lead single and title track. “Worth It All” is about the benefits of weathering the storms of a long-term relationship, and after just the first few bars, fans will realize that the Osborne we knew and loved hasn’t missed a beat.
The lead single is also somewhat autobiographical: Osborne is celebrating over 35 years of monogamous marriage. As this writer can’t claim 35 years of marriage combining two distinct marriages, I had to ask him about that.
“That lead single is real,” Osborne shared of “Worth It All.” “You’re gonna have bumps in the road. You’re gonna face things — but the most important thing is if you really love each other, it’s more important to get through those times and save what you have. I’ll fight through anything to keep it together, to keep it going. To me, that’s worth it all.”
Simmer down, ladies. Simmer DOWN! Did you hear me say the man is married? And if you didn’t get a feel about Osborne being a family man from that, check this out: he wrote and recorded one of the songs on Worth It All, “Work It,” with his son.
“I never thought that would ever happen because he was never really into music,” Osborne recalled. “He went to college and said everyone was playing my music in the dorms! He started rapping, and I was shocked! I’d never heard him rap! I asked him to give me a track and I thought we’d write a song together, but I figured he would take me in a very different direction. His track ended up being more R & B than anything else on the record.”
Other highlights of Osborne’s new Worth It All project include “Saving My Love,” “I Want You,” and “The Greatest Night,” stunning ballads that stand up to anything the legend has ever recorded. And “Summer Nights” could be the adult jam of the season.
“Of course, radio wanted something that sounds more like ‘today,’ but I think ‘today’ needs to start conforming to the real stuff that was happening back in the day. So I stuck to my guns. We’ll see what happens with it.”
Jeffrey Osborne’s new Worth It All album is available digitally, on Amazon, and at retail. Information on the artist is at jeffreyosborne.com.
Look to The Hub in the coming weeks for more of our EXCLUSIVE interview with the legendary Jeffrey Osborne. He spilled the tea on why he left LTD, and on the song that he once gave to an unknown singer named Whitney Houston!
Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP.
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