Lee Fields is a pro. Born in Wilson, NC, during the Jim Crow era, he cut his first record in Charlotte in 1979 and has been working every day since then. In the 1970s and 1980s, he logged time with Kip Anderson, Kool and the Gang, O.V. Wright, and other R&B workhorses, traveling the country and playing the club circuit. He and his bands would cut R&B records when the times called for it. To say he toiled in obscurity would be to insult the strides he made early in his career. But he certainly didn't become the star that his songwriting and singing voice called for.
That began to change In the early 2000s. Throwback R&B labels Daptone Records and Truth & Soul started releasing old school records, and a younger generation of music heads (re)discovered the power of 1960s-style soul music. It never went away...people had just stopped paying attention.
In 2009, Truth & Soul released My World by Lee Fields & The Expressions. It was not the band's first record together, but it was the first in the new era of old soul music. The record was a hit, and Lee's star began to rise. Follow up records Faithful Man (2012) and Emma Jean (2014) on Truth & Soul were equally stellar. The momentum continued through last year when Big Crown Records released Special Night (2016). All four of these records are essential and have cemented Lee Fields' legacy as a national treasure. Immensely talented with an unwavering dedication to his craft, he represents all that's right with independent music today.
Cream Puff Records had the thrill of chatting with Lee Fields on Valentine's day. He told us all about his childhood in Wilson, where the tension between gospel and secular music formed the foundation of his life as a musician. He also had some heartwarming things to say about his friend Sharon Jones.
Lee Fields & The Expressions bring their hot-as-fire show to Charlotte this week. They'll be at Neighborhood Theatre on Thursday night (March 9th; 8pm; Get tickets here).
Click on "Read More" below to read the Cream Puff Records Interview with Lee Fields.