Billy Price and Otis Clay: Two singers separated by a generation come together in a performance that moves the Southern soul tradition a little bit further up the road.
Pittsburgh rhythm and blues singer Billy Price and deep Southern soul/gospel icon Otis Clay worked with masterful guitarist/producer Duke Robillard to create their first full-album collaboration, THIS TIME FOR REAL, slated for a May 19, 2015 release through Bonedog Records/VizzTone. Duke brought along his own band and part of the Roomful of Blues horn section for sessions in Rhode Island, and included veteran backup singers for the vocal sessions at Chicago’s Riverside Studios in the legendary Delmark Records Building.
“Otis Clay has been my mentor and biggest influence as a singer since the first time I had the privilege of singing with him,” says Price. “To have the opportunity to collaborate with him on an entire album has been one of the biggest thrills of my career.”
Otis Clay is one of the defining voices of Southern soul. He came up in 1940s Waxhaw, Mississippi, sang in church and absorbed the gospel and rhythm & blues that streamed in over far-reaching radio. A decade later, Otis Clay was in Chicago where he sang with hard gospel quartets that included top groups such as the Famous Blue Jay Singers and the Sensational Nightingales. In the 1960s, Clay made his name on the secular side with breakout soul hits, highlighted by the 1972 release of his “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” a Willie Mitchell production on the Memphis-based Hi label.
Billy Price built a strong reputation among music fans as vocalist with D.C.-area guitarist Roy Buchanan in the 1970s. When he founded Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band in 1979, he chose Clay’s “Is It Over?” as the title song for his first album. Three years later he called Otis and invited him to perform with his band on dates in his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Washington, D.C.
“At that time, I never worked without my band,” says Otis Clay. “When we talked, I realized he knew what he was talking about, so much so that he convinced me to do it, and we’ve kept on doing it down through the years. This project is the culmination of what we started in 1982. People love to see us work together, so we decided to document it by doing an album together, which dictates that we are even more together… This new album is a coming together of folks that have known each other for a long time. Full circle.”
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