Soul Power

CurtisHarding_byHediSlimane

With a style as enigmatic as Bo Diddley and a voice as memorable as Sam Cooke, Curtis Harding’s lyrics are incandescent, drenched in the waters of soul, blues, rock and garage. These elements Harding has managed to effortlessly harness for his debut album entitled, Soul Power. Harding’s sound ignites in explosive detail, describing what it is to be on the road; the hellos and goodbyes said to fleeting objects of affection before taking yet another drive into to the familiarly unfamiliar.

The Atlanta artist was ushered into the world of gospel and soul at an early age while touring the U.S with his parents, so it’s no wonder Harding has such an intimate entanglement in the roots of American blues, rock and soul. The selection of a Fender Jaguar makes for crisp blues-y bass lines and nostalgic guitar hooks that embody a man with a purpose. SOMA had the privilege of catching up with Harding to speak with him about some of his experiences on the road, his latest album and growing up gospel.

Your sound has many elements: blues, soul, rock, and garage. What was it like growing up around such a diverse collection of sounds? Who were some of your favorites?

It was and still is great! I can’t just listen to one style of music as I am not just one thing. I’d listen to a lot of John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Albert King, Sly Stone, Willie Hutch, The Consolers, Stax, Motown, BDP, The Gospel Keynotes, The Nerves, MC Lyte, Ramones, Robert Palmer, the Cure, The Clash, Geto Boys, and David Bowie just to name a few. I could go on forever.

You traveled the country as a child singing alongside your parents. Can you share a little bit of your experiences being on the road at such a young age?

We’d go to a city and perform on the street and at local churches. We’d sometimes have financial support but most times we depended on the kindness of others, meaning we’d ask for a donation after. We sang to and with the homeless, gangs, dealers and addicts—mostly people who were not considered to be a productive part of society. It’s funny because they were the most generous…My mother would say “reaching the lost at any cost.” It had its ups and downs but it was a learning experience that made me who I am today.

In a recent interview you described your album Soul Power as ‘Slop ‘n’ soul’—what’s the meaning behind this description?

‘Slop ‘n’ Soul’ describes the sound. Slop is runny and funky. Full of bits and pieces from whatever. Soul is the foundation.

Each song on your album seems incredibly genuine, and the titles themselves give off a sense of someone who has indeed been on the road. How would you describe the overall feeling of Soul Power?

I think you just did!

How has it been touring the country since the release of your album?

It’s been great. People have been really awesome and the responses and reviews have been pretty positive so far. I’m looking forward to going more places and playing more shows.

Harding’s music is a testament to the ground that he and a select few have re-soiled for sounds that have been re-sown and planted back into rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues. Already he is a veteran in his own right; Soul Power is a labyrinth of jazzy hooks and piercing guitar-driven rhythms layered with quintessential drum beats. Harding is undeniably contributing and re-amplifying to this complex world of audible artistry, and we at SOMA can’t wait to see what is next for this rising star.

Text by William Lankford
Photography by Hedi Slimane

THE OBSESSION ISSUE

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