Singer Marc Broussard Remakes Soul

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Marc Broussard i

Marc Broussard first sang with his father's band at age five. Sam Erickson hide caption

itoggle caption Sam Erickson
Marc Broussard

Marc Broussard first sang with his father's band at age five.

Sam Erickson

Marc Broussard, a 20-something musician, creates soulful rhythm and blues like a seasoned artist. The Louisiana singer remakes classic soul songs by Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and others on his new album S.O.S.: Save Our Soul. Broussard talks with John Ydstie.

(Soundbite of song, "I've Been Loving You Too Long")

Mr. MARC BROUSSARD (Singer): (Singing) I've been loving you too long.


On his new CD, "S.O.S.: Save Our Soul," Marc Broussard sings soul music like a 40-year-old man who's been knocked down and got up more times than he can remember.

(Soundbite of song, "I've Been Loving You Too Long")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) You were tired.

YDSTIE: But Marc Broussard is only in his mid-20s. He was raised in Louisiana's Cajun Country, where he first sang with his father's band at age five. Marc Broussard joins us from member station, WBHM, in Birmingham, Alabama. Welcome to the program.

Mr. BROUSSARD: Thank you very much.

YDSTIE: Is it intimidating for you as a young, white musician to tackle songs by these giants of soul? We're talking about people like Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and this song by Stevie Wonder, "You Met Your Match."

(Soundbite of song, "You Met Your Match")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Hey, you…

Mr. BROUSSARD: This song in particular was one of those beasts. It's a song that Stevie sang so well, and it showcases his range. And it was really early on in his career. He was probably about the same age as I am now. I chose this song because it is one of the harder songs to sing.

(Soundbite of song, "You Met Your Match")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) I'll show you the way to love somebody like you've never ever been shown 'cause my love light's burning, my whole life's yearning for you. Hey, baby…

YDSTIE: I guess there is a question of why re-record these songs that are so iconic, especially if you're really reaching to kind of match those vocal performances

Mr. BROUSSARD: Well, these songs are iconic to the people that were growing up with them. I definitely have a large part of my audience that is under the age of 25. I just wanted to take them to a little soul school, you know? The question is why would I listen to Marc Broussard's "Love and Happiness" when I can listen to Al Green's "Love and Happiness?" Well, you've heard Al Green's "Love and Happiness." If you're looking for that vibe, why don't you try to put my version on and see if it doesn't tweak your ear just a hair?

(Soundbite of song, "Love and Happiness")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) Wait a minute. Something's going wrong. Someone's on the phone. It's three o'clock in the morning. Talking about how she can make it right. Oh, baby. Love and happiness.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Love and happiness.

YDSTIE: Let's talk about a couple other tracks. First, let's play a little bit of "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye. This, of course, is the new version sung by Marc Broussard.

(Soundbite of song, "Inner City Blues")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) Inflation no chance to increase finance. Bills pile up sky high. Send that boy off to die.

YDSTIE: You know, that's not an easy song, I wouldn't think. I mean, it deals with hopelessness, poverty, police brutality from a black man's perspective.

Mr. BROUSSARD: Yeah. This entire album, "What's Going On?" was a story of trial and, you know, he was talking about the Vietnam War. And, I mean, it's tough to really pull that off if you're not throwing yourself completely into that character. And that was - it was rather exhausting trying to recreate that vibe.

(Soundbite of song, "Inner City Blues")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) Oh, make me wanna holler the way they do my life. This ain't living, this ain't living.

I remember when I was just 17 years old, my dad and I would play these gigs for extra cash. And I was singing "What's Going On?" one night. And afterwards, this old fellow came up and he was like, yeah, man. You all sound great, man. You're a great singer. You got great pipes. But, man, leave Marvin alone.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BROUSSARD: I was like, whatever, man.


(Soundbite of laughter)

YDSTIE: One song on this album that - to my ears, at least - surpasses the original is "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know," written by Al Kooper, who sang with Blood, Sweat and Tears. And then he got Donny Hathaway sang it as well.

Mr. BROUSSARD: Correct.

YDSTIE: Let's listen to that.

(Soundbite of song, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know")

Mr. AL KOOPER (Singer, Blood, Sweat and Tears): (Singing) If I ever leave you, you can say I told you so.

YDSTIE: Okay. Now, let's listen to your version.

(Soundbite of song, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) And if I ever hurt you, you know I hurt myself as well.

YDSTIE: So why did you decide to slow it down so much?

Mr. BROUSSARD: When I sing slow songs like this, what I like to envision is people on the dance floor holding each other so closely, and we're playing the song so slow that they're not even moving.

YDSTIE: Right.

Mr. BROUSSARD: They're just standing there.

YDSTIE: And they don't want to end, right?

Mr. BROUSSARD: Totally wrapped up.

YDSTIE: So slow it down.

Mr. BROUSSARD: They don't want it to end. Exactly. Exactly. You want to keep those kids on the dance floor in that moment for as long as you possibly can.

(Soundbite of song, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) More than you'll ever know.

YDSTIE: You know, one of my favorite parts of this song happens toward the end, where the music stops, you change keys and you go into this bridge…

Mr. BROUSSARD: Oh, yeah.

YDSTIE: That must be a real thrill to do.

Mr. BROUSSARD: It's fun, and especially live - it's when I, you know, grab the mic off the mic stand because it really opens up to this beautiful place. And I'm not trying to be just any kind of man. I'm trying to be somebody that you will love, trust and understand. And then it explodes after that.

(Soundbite of song, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) I'm not trying to be - no, no, no, no - just kind of man. No, I ain't. I'm just trying to be somebody that you can love, to love and understand. I don't wanna…

The song is one of my favorite of all time. Donny's version is the version that I was mimicking, you know, more closely than Blood, Sweat and Tears. But even when you listen to Al Kooper, I mean, you can tell the man is feeling it. And it was a privilege to be able to put this song on record.

YDSTIE: Thanks very much for joining us.

Mr. BROUSSARD: Oh, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

YDSTIE: Marc Broussard's new album is titled "S.O.S.: Save Our Soul."

(Soundbite of song, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know")

Mr. BROUSSARD: (Singing) I'm only flesh and blood. But I can be anything that you demand.

YDSTIE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm John Ydstie.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

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