R&B Pioneer Bobby Harden Chats New Music, Touring Russia, & The Woes of the Business

Bobby Harden started singing as a young teen in his hometown church choir. He just wanted to hang with his friends, he had no intention of it leading to a career.

Now, several decades later Harden has worked long and hard, touring worldwide and constantly releasing new music on big labels like Daptone Records and indie labels like Dala Records. His newest release will be the seven-inch coming soon with the tracks “Feels So Good” and “Wounded Hearts,” which you’ll also be able to order on 45 vinyl.

His vocals are as smooth and sultry as the first day he opened his mouth to sing for his choir teacher Ms. Sue Hill. His songs warmly bring a message of love and serenity, even when singing about heartbreak. You’ll wish you could live inside the melodies Harden creates to swirl around your mind and give you a hug.

Read the entire interview with the pioneering soul/R&B singer below and keep an eye out for his upcoming seven-inch.

BTRtoday (BTR): Hi Bobby! You’re such a pioneering musician. How did you get started in music?

Bobby Harden (BH): I got started in music when I was 13 yrs old. Not realizing I could sing, I joined the church choir to hang out with my friends. The very first rehearsal I attended, Ms. Sue Hill, our music director, introduced a new song to the choir, “ It’s Been Good To Be Here.” After she taught the sopranos and altos their parts, she asked the 5 or 6 tenors to stand up. After singing a few bars, she stopped playing the piano and asked “who’s voice is that I hear?” And they all pointed to me, and she told me to come sit next to her, on the piano bench. After she finished teaching the tenors their parts, she looked at me and said “I want you to lead this song.” I was crazy nervous. I started to sing a little. She stopped playing again and said, “boy! Open your mouth and sing!” And I did and never stopping singing sense. I still sing some contemporary and traditional gospel, but my career is all secular music. On my last “River of Soul CD” I recorded “ You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

BTR: Did you ever have that epiphany moment in music where you were just 100% sure you were on the right path?

BH: Yes, I have an epiphany moment every time I’m on stage singing. I love people and I love seeing people happy when I sing. That feeling is always my moment of truth.

BTR: Tell me about your favorite and/or proudest moment as an artist.

BH: Well, that’s not so easy, because I have so many. Touring with the Original Blues Brothers Band with Steve Cropper and Blue Lou Marini and Leon Pendarvis, and the other cats in the band, is always a proud moment. Here’s one I’ll always cherish thought: I remember when I started touring Russia and Siberia in 2013. I just couldn’t believe I was actually in Russia and Siberia. I met so many wonderful people and musicians. Siberia melted my heart, and I met so many kind people. So many people would stand in line to take a picture and to get my autograph. I didn’t care how long it took for me to sign every autograph. I was going to stay there and make sure nobody went home disappointed. That was a moment I’ll always cherish. It was definitely one of my favorite moments because I knew when I returned back to NYC, the only line waiting for me was the custom’s line at the airport. Even though we had a challenging time communicating, the “Spa see ba” (Thank You) the warm hugs and handshakes kept coming. I was told by the promoter that I was the first soul singer to tour Siberia! Even if it’s not true, it certainly felt good to hear it.

BTR: Considering everything going on in the world, the pandemic, and the protests, what from the world is inspiring you artistically right now?

BH: TIME! Time to practice on my piano. I’m so determined to play solo piano. I’m taking advantage of time BIG TIME. I sometimes come up with new lyrics that I write down, but I don’t try to complete them. I’m not feeling the writing mood. But it will come, as soon as the next writing project comes up. I do look forward to performing again. I have a live zoom concert on Sept 6th. So if anybody is interested in some fun, go to my website to get info.

BTR: What kind of advice would you give to anyone trying to make it in the music biz?

BH: Don’t do it! Here’s my absolutely honest answer. Please continue your education. Get a BA, Masters or get a skill in carpentry, auto mechanic, electrician, etc.—get something before you go serious with your career. It’s a challenging business. But if you choose to ignore my advice, then show up at the gig prepared, do your very best, and be nice. Write as many songs as possible, network, network, and more network. Those habits will always create more work and opportunities for you. The music industry has changed so much. I think writing and recording is the way to go. That’s where the money is. But the more diverse you are, the better your chances are at surviving in the industry. For most, “success” doesn’t happen overnight and for some, it just doesn’t happen at all, and that’s based on a lot of factors. But if you love it, keep working at your craft, and showing up with a great attitude and on time, you’ll be ok. Just make sure you enjoy the journey because that’s what it’s all about. After all these years in the business, I never had the kind of success I dreamt about back in the day, but I can truly say, I feel just as successful because I’m very happy with my life and my journey.

BTR: If your music had a life motto, what do you think it would be?

BH: Love, Love, Love! I truly believe in the power of Love!

BTR: What should we be keeping an eye out for in the future of your
music?

BH: Glad you asked! Dala Records will be releasing a new 45 vinyl of two songs, A-side “Feels So Good” and B-side “Wounded Hearts.” I’m really excited about both of these two songs. Keep your eyes and ears open for them. And for those who haven’t heard my first release “Runnin’ (To Get To Your Love)” on Dala Records, the mp3 is available on iTunes, and the vinyl is available on Dala Records and at Daptone. Also, my River of Soul tracks and Soul Purpose tracks are available on iTunes or you save them on Spotify.

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