Grammy Award-winning rhythm and blues singer Aaron Neville has one of the most recognizable voices in modern music history. With his family group, The Neville Brothers, and as a solo performer, Aaron has recorded a diverse repertoire of funk, soul, R&B, rock, pop and gospel. Aaron Neville offers interpretations of classic American composers on his new CD, Nature Boy: The Standards Album.
Aaron Neville grew up in New Orleans, a city known for its rich jazz and blues heritage. "Jazz was as much a part of my musical education as blues or funk. My brother Charles hipped me [made me aware] to modern jazz when I was a kid. He's always been an inspiration," he said. "My dad, Arthur, was our first inspiration. He loved Nat 'King' Cole's brand of jazz, and 'Nature Boy' was his favorite song. I sing it in tribute to him."
During the 1960s, Aaron Neville recorded for a few small labels in Louisiana before hitting Number 1 on the pop chart in 1967 with his soul and blues tune, Tell It Like It Is.
Joining the Neville Brothers in the 1970s, Aaron helped them earn a string of successful albums. In 1989, Aaron's duet with Linda Ronstadt, Don't Know Much, reached the Number two position. On his new album, Nature Boy, Aaron reunites with old friend Linda on The Very Thought of You.
Aaron Neville's Nature Boy, features songs by legendary American composers such as George Gershwin, Oscar Levant, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter. Aaron says he wanted to recreate the mood of a small club, and use his voice like a jazz instrument. He also wanted to include ballads that "blurred the line" between jazz and blues.
In the studio, Aaron also called on an all-star line-up of jazz musicians, such as Ron Carter, Grady Tate, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, and Aaron's brother, Charles Neville. "These are some bad cats [cool musicians]," he said. "They got the mood just right. For me, jazz is all about mood. Jazz is all about standards that are connected to your soul, connected to your life."
Aaron Neville feels it was a natural progression for him to record an album of standards. "To be singing these chestnuts [old songs] brings me back to my parents. These were the songs they danced to, and they were the songs of my youth," he said. "My folks taught me that music, love and God are all one thing. So, in singing these songs, I feel the spirit of all love."
In April, Aaron Neville was inducted into the Delta Music Museum and Hall of Fame at a ceremony in his home state of Louisiana. He's currently on a U.S. tour with The Neville Brothers.