“Let me wrap you in my warm and tender love…”
Sometimes simplicity is the key to true emotion. Percy Sledge has spent a career being one of the most romantic of the soul balladeers of the 1960’s. His first hit, the certified classic ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’, set the bar for all soul ballads to come. Barry White’s “symphonic soul” excursions and the romantic Philly soul movement both owed a great debt to this one song. It was written by Sledge himself and two bandmates, but Sledge went uncredited, giving the royalties to the backing players. That act alone goes a long way to show the type of man who was singing these songs of true love and devotion.
Born in Alabama, Sledge, like many R&B personalities, got his start in doo wop and soul singing groups. He soon signed with Atlantic Records as a solo artist and went on to record multiple hit singles. While none matched the success of ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’, his tonal qualities and tasteful song selections ensured him a long lasting career. While his second single, ‘Warm and Tender Love’, was not a smash, it did make the charts in 1966. The song carried on the themes of it’s predecessor, giving Sledge fans another dose of his brand of soul. The lyrics and melody perfectly compliment the singer’s emotionally fragile, yet powerful vocal chops.
With many of our great soul and blues artists from the golden age of music passing on, it is rare to get to see one of the powerhouse singers in person. Percy was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and attended the ceremony. His performance of his signature song brought the house down and demonstrated his skills at their peak. While some singers may exude charisma on stage, Sledge continues to perform as one of the most emotionally open singers in R&B history. This author can attest to his continued staying power, after seeing him in concert in 2005. The show was a devastating testament to the lasting power of these genre defining artists. Should they come to your area, don’t miss your chance to see them in person.