Al Green radiates rhythm and joy wherever he goes. On Friday, he returns to Wolf Trap with a program of his classic gospel, R&B and soulful hits that have inspired millions for five decades.
"I depend on my director to prepare three different sets with a variety of songs," Green said. "Whichever one he picks for a particular concert, I can be sure it will include some numbers from my latest album, 'Love Ritual,' and songs that people never forget, like 'Let's Stay Together,' 'I'm Still in Love with You' and 'You Ought to be with Me.' I'm always amazed that fans know every song by heart. When I recently performed in Paris, a woman came up afterward and scolded me that I missed a note.
"Rhythm is the most important quality I look for in a new song. There's nothing better than looking out at the audience, seeing everybody swaying from side to side and entire families filled with happiness. Not long ago, a man told me that he and his wife met years ago while they were listening to 'Let's Stay Together' for the first time. Now they have every single record of mine."
Green has been at the top of his musical game since the early 1970s, when the late Willie Mitchell discovered his powerful voice and paved the road to stardom with unforgettable arrangements on each record album. His early success as an R&B singer knew no bounds once he heeded a message from God and combined a remastered life with gospel music.
|Where: Wolf Trap's Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna|
|When: 8 p.m. Friday|
|Info: $45 in-house, $25 lawn; 877-WOLFTRAP (965-3872); wolftrap.org|
Through the years, he has earned dozens of honors, including 11 Grammy Awards. His reputation was sealed in 2005, with his inclusion in the Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."
"They've all meant a lot to me, but my induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was probably the most surprising," he said. "I'm not a rock and roll singer, but my selection was confirmation that I'd been in the business for 25 years and won a lot of Grammys during that time."
Green's immediate agenda includes completing his next CD.
"I've written four or five R&B songs for it to record in Nashville, [Tenn.], and I'll also be cutting a jazz record in Boston," he said. "That's like already having the steak and just needing to put some gravy on it for the audience. Whether they're listening to my music on an album or at a live concert, I want to leave them with my message of love."