In Your Ear: Lou Gossett, Jr.

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As Hollywood prepares to roll out the red carpet for this weekend's 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony, veteran actor and Oscar-winning star, Lou Gossett, Jr., shares some of the tunes that inspire him.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Next, to the occasional segment we call "In Your Ear." That's where we ask some of our guests about the music they've been listening to. Ahead of the Academy Awards this Sunday, we've been checking in with former Oscar winners who've been on the program. Just yesterday, you heard Hilary Swank.

Today, Louis Gossett Jr., a veteran of stage and film. He might be best known for his 1983 Academy Award-winning role in "An Officer And A Gentleman," playing opposite Richard Gere. We spoke with him recently about his life and career and today, he shares some of his musical inspirations.

Mr. LOUIS GOSSETT, JR. (Actor): Hi, this is Louis Gossett, Jr. One music I hear in my ears almost constantly is Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue." I think it is the greatest jazz album ever made, with those great saxophone solos.

(Soundbite of music, "Kind of Blue")

Mr. GOSSETT, JR.: And "Kind of Blue" is incredible. And it's got Coltrane on it. It's got Sonny Rollins. It's got Cannonball. Some of those solos are just outstanding and spectacular. If I want to be cool, I want to calm down, I put a headset on and I put "Kind of Blue" on.

(Soundbite of song, "Kind of Blue")

Mr. GOSSETT, JR.: I'm also listening to Oleta Adams sing, you can get here by airplane but get here when you can. I can hear that again and again and again.

(Soundbite of song, "Get Here")

Ms. OLETA ADAMS (Singer): (Singing) You can reach me by railway, you can reach me by Trailways. You can reach me on an airplane; you can reach me with your mind. You can reach me by caravan, cross the desert like an Arab man. I don't care how you get here, just get here if you can.

Mr. GOSSETT, JR.: I try and figure out, to get to Oleta Adams, if she sings that well, I'm going to have to find Oleta Adams. But she puts me in a great mood.

(Soundbite of song, "Get Here")

Ms. ADAMS: (Singing) ...between us. Always something to get over. If I had my way, surely you would be closer. I need you closer.

Mr. GOSSETT, JR.: And another song that I'm listening to is the late Luther Vandross. Right smack in the middle. "Right In The Middle."

(Soundbite of song, "Right In The Middle")

Mr. LUTHOR VANDROSS (Singer): (Singing) And believe me when I tell you. This thing called love, for sure, is like most things in life.

CHORUS: (Singing) Not all bad, not all good.

Mr. VANDORSS: It's just something that I believe.

CHORUS: (Singing) Not all cold, not all hot.

Mr. VANDORSS: Yeah, I like that. Not all...

Mr. GOSSETT, JR.: It's a nice philosophy, you know: Don't be too hot, too cold, too up or too down. It's always best right in the middle, going straight through to the heart.

(Soundbite of song, "Right In The Middle")

Mr. VANDROSS: (Singing) So don't miss all the good, waiting for the best, there's still happiness. Right in the middle.

MARTIN: That was actor Louis Gossett Jr., telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our full conversation with him, please go to our program page at npr.org; select TELL ME MORE from the program tabs. Our Oscar week "In Your Ear" segments continue tomorrow.

(Soundbite of song, "Right In The Middle")

CHORUS: (Singing) ...up and down, in then out.

Mr. VANDORSS: And after the last goodbye, I still didn't know...

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