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Joe Henry, Believing in Soul and Much More

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Joe Henry, Believing in Soul and Much More

Joe Henry, Believing in Soul and Much More

Joe Henry, Believing in Soul and Much More

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/14418135/14418134" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Singer-songwriter Joe Henry has worked with everybody from soul great Allen Toussaint to jazz giant Ornette Coleman to Madonna (his sister-in-law, who recorded his "Don't Tell Me" on her album Music).

Henry's songwriting has been compared to that of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan. Civilians, his latest album, was released this week.

This interview was first broadcast on Jan. 18, 2006.

Giants of Soul: A New Approach

Giants of Soul: A New Approach

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More Music from 'Soul'

Joe Henry on 'World Cafe'

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Joe Henry is the brother-in-law of another singer: Madonna. Melanie Nissen hide caption

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Melanie Nissen

Songs from 'Soul'

Keep on Pushing

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River Boat

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When the Candle Burns Low

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For his latest release, producer and troubadour Joe Henry worked with giants in soul music, from Allen Toussaint to Mavis Staples. It was quite a departure for Henry, whose songs include "Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation."

I Believe to My Soul is a collection of classic soul and R&B singers doing songs they hadn't done before. It features some of Henry's favorite performers: Irma Thomas, Ann Peebles and Billy Preston, along with Staples and Toussaint.

Recording for the album began in the summer of 2005, long before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

In the wake of that disaster, it was decided that the record would benefit survivors of the hurricane — several musicians involved in recording Soul have long-standing ties to New Orleans — especially Toussaint, who has lived there for decades.

Since 1986, Henry has released nine albums, which have fostered a bit of a cult following for his work. His songwriting has been compared to Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. His songs include "Don't Tell Me" — which was recorded by his sister-in-law, Madonna.

On his 2001 album Scar, Henry collaborated with jazz musicians Ornette Coleman and Brad Mehldau. In addition working with Aimee Mann, Henry also produced legendary singer Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up On Me, which won a Grammy in 2002.