Q&A with veteran Los Angeles-based Sonny Green, one of the most underrated soul singers alive

"I miss the blues entertainers that have passed away. Now it’s a lot of Rap and the music is not the same. My hopes are to complete my heart desires through music, generating wealth a living a successful lifestyle."

Sonny Green: One Soul Singer, One Love

New release from Los Angeles' own Sonny Green, titled “Found! One Soul Singer” (Little Village Foundation, 2020). Sonny Green is one of the best blues and soul singers alive, and this high quality debut recording, produced/recorded by the supremely talented Kid Andersen, is going to blow you away with Sonny’s gospel-drenched, soul stirring vocals being the star of the show. This modern day soul blues classic recording also has the benefit of having Kid’s other worldly guitar and genius production skills, Jim Pugh’s in demand B-3 organ playing, a full horn section (including guest sax studs, Sax Gordon & Terry Hanck and star vocalist, Alabama Mike! Like any great artist, Sonny has a style and voice all his own, but you can definitely hear his influences in his repertoire, including Bobby “Blue” Bland (“I’m So Tired”), Little Milton (“If Walls Could Talk”), Syl Johnson (“Back For A Taste Of Your Love”), Ted Taylor’s ballad (“Be Ever Wonderful”), and even a really cool cover of an early Willie Nelson tune, “Are You Sure?” Two standout songs have never been on record before, the Alabama Mike original, “Trouble,” a “so funky you can smell it” duet with Sonny and Alabama Mike, and one of two originals from the witty mind and pen of Rick Estrin, “I Got There!”

Robert “Sonny” Green was born in Monroe Louisiana in October 1941. At the age of eighteen the vocalist was hired by saxophonist Big Jay McNeely who had a 1959 hit single “There is Something On Your Mind” sung by Little Sonny Warner. As Warner’s replacement Green was dubbed “Sonny” to make people think he was the original. Later, while on tour with Tyrone Davis, Green relocated to Texas, and then to Los Angeles. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s Green recorded eight singles (a total of fifteen sides) for various labels, mostly those owned by producer Matt Hill. Hill’s biggest star was his brother Arzel, better known as Z.Z. Hill, but Green scored with 1969’s “It’s A Game”; 1971’s “If You Want Me To Keep On Loving You”; 1972’s “Don’t Write A Check With Your Mouth”, and 1974’s “I’m Just Your Man”. Throughout the years Green continued to perform. In 2014 Green shared a bill with his childhood friend and classmate Mighty Sam McClain as they were both featured performers at the 17th Blues Masters at The Crossroads concert presented by Blue Heaven Studios in Salina, Kansas.

Interview by Michael Limnios     Special Thanks: Kevin Johnson, Proud Papa Promotions 

How has the Blues, R&B and Soul music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

My preference is the Blues. It’s my heart and soul. The Blues is the only music that I really enjoy!

What were the reasons that made the 50-60s to be the center of Soul Blues researches and experiments?

I believe that people could relate to the music in the 50s – 60s because, the music reminded them of their life – styles rather good or bad.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? How do you want your music to affect people?

The Blues tells a story that most people can identify their lifestyles to. I enjoy singing, it makes me feel good, and I love sharing my gift to words.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Hanging around Johnnie Taylor and ZZ Hill, was a great experience. I learned all about stage performances and entertaining the crowds, and was told, whenever I go overseas, I will become a Giant!

"To always have a clear head, stay focus and continue moving forward and stay surrounded around positive and likeminded people."

(Photo: Sonny Green)

What would you say characterizes LA Soul/Blues music scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

LA Soul is music that you can dance to rather fast or slow, inclusive love ballads. The Blues has a sad message, that’s relatable to many people lifestyle, that’s having the Blues. The Rap, I don’t love for at all. I think it’s disrespectful to women in many ways.  My desire is to help make the world a better place through my music.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the blues entertainers that have passed away. Now it’s a lot of Rap and the music is not the same. My hopes are to complete my heart desires through music, generating wealth a living a successful lifestyle. Meeting Noel Hayes has been a life changer for the better. Because with Noel, I have recording my debut CD. Thank you, Noel Hayes, this mean so much to me. My only fear is not having a cure fot the Corona virus, so we can start living a normal lifestyle.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

To always have a clear head, stay focus and continue moving forward and stay surrounded around positive and likeminded people.   

What is the impact of Soul on the socio-cultural implications? Do you consider a specific music genre or it’s a state of mind?

Music is introduced through different cultures, there’s all kind of music. My preference is the Blues. I enjoy Love Ballads too.

Sonny Green at La Louisianne, Los Angeles 2016 / Photo by Nick Cobban

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