Candi crush

It’s dif­fi­cult not to like straight-talk­ing soul sur­vivor Candi Sta­ton. She chat­ted to AN­DREW ARTHUR about her 30th al­bum, al­co­holism, abu­sive mar­riages, and play­ing baseball with Sam Cooke

Llanelli Star - - Sound Out -

‘AM I un­stop­pable? You could call it that!” Candi Sta­ton de­clares with a grin. The soul singer is keep­ing a low pro­file in a baseball cap and sun­glasses, as we sit in a quiet corner of a ho­tel din­ing room.

Candi, 78, played an in­ti­mate show the pre­vi­ous even­ing to launch the 30th al­bum of her ca­reer, Un­stop­pable.

She cites life in Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica and the in­jus­tices African Amer­i­cans face as mo­ti­va­tion to con­tinue some five decades af­ter she first reached the US charts.

“This al­bum speaks to the now,” says the Alabama-born singer, with her soft, south­ern States ac­cent.

“When Dr Martin Luther King was try­ing to change things in the Six­ties, Mavis Sta­ples came out with songs like Re­spect Your­self. It spoke to what was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing po­lit­i­cally and racially. This al­bum does the same thing.

“I’m en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple be­cause there is so much bul­ly­ing from the top. It’s amaz­ing how peo­ple are cow­er­ing un­der it. Bills are pass­ing, we don’t know what they’re do­ing in the dark. There is so much un­cer­tainty now.

“I was born in the For­ties. We had prej­u­dice and all that kind of stuff. It’s not prej­u­dice in the form of seg­re­ga­tion now.

We’re hav­ing a lot of prob­lems with racism. It’s just bla­tant.”

Candi be­gan singing in a gospel group with her sis­ters as a teenager and toured with the likes of Ma­halia Jack­son and Sam Cooke.

“I was 14 when I met Sam. I never knew Sam was go­ing to be who he was. We got to be friends. He wasn’t a big star, he was just the lead singer of a gospel group. He was one of us.

“We’d ar­rive early at the school au­di­to­rium where we’d be per­form­ing. One of us would have a ball. We’d get a plank, not a baseball bat, just some plank, and we’d play ball!”

Re­li­gion has been the foun­da­tion of Candi’s life. Her faith has guided her through many dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods, in­clud­ing a 10-year

bat­tle with al­co­holism.

At the start of her ca­reer, she found her­self caught be­tween tour­ing and rais­ing a fam­ily – and de­vel­oped a taste for cham­pagne at record com­pany par­ties and be­came de­pen­dent on al­co­hol to per­form. She vividly rec­ol­lects the day she de­cided never to touch an­other drop.

“It was in Au­gust and it was hot. I was in Alabama. We were swim­ming. I was sat there on a big ol’ rock. I had a hang­over. I started cry­ing. I said, ‘This is not like me, I don’t know what I’m do­ing with my life’.

“I said, ‘This has gotta stop but I don’t know how’. It was as though I could hear my mother’s voice. She said, ‘You need to fast. Fast­ing breaks things’.

“So I sat there in the waves and said, ‘Lord, I wanna be as solid as this rock?’

“All of a sudden, I said I wasn’t drink­ing any­more, or eat­ing un­til this is bro­ken. That was in the Seven­ties. I’ve not had an­other drink since.”

Candi ad­mits her faith was also tested dur­ing a string of abu­sive re­la­tion­ships and dif­fi­cult di­vorces. The lyrics of her disco an­them, Young Hearts Run Free, were writ­ten while Candi was see­ing what she calls one of her “bad guys”.

She re­mem­bers him hold­ing her over a ban­is­ter at a the­atre she was play­ing at in Las Ve­gas with Ray Charles, and threat­en­ing to drop her.

Candi is hap­pily mar­ried to her sixth hus­band now, a for­mer US se­cret ser­vice agent who worked as a body­guard for four pres­i­dents. They were in­tro­duced at a church where Candi was do­ing char­ity work sup­port­ing vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Candi’s ca­reer was re­ju­ve­nated in the Nineties, when a song she recorded for a diet com­mer­cial was remixed and re­leased by Lon­don DJ, The Source. You Got The Love was a hit across Europe.

“It was on the shelf and I for­got it was even out there. When peo­ple told me it was in the top 10 here in Europe, I was floored. And then it clicked. ‘Oh that song I did in Chicago in ‘86 for that diet thing!’ When I heard it, I didn’t recog­nise it.”

I ask Candi whose re­work­ing of the track she likes the best.

“Florence + the Ma­chine did a good job. We did it at Glas­ton­bury and she recorded it on her phone! I was go­ing to do it like that on stage, but she beat me to it!”

Candi Sta­ton’s new al­bum Un­stop­pable is avail­able now.

I’m en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple be­cause there is so much bul­ly­ing from the top. It’s amaz­ing how peo­ple are cow­er­ing un­der it... There is so much un­cer­tainty now... Candi Sta­ton on how racism in Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica has in­spired some of her new al­bum Un­stop­pable, pic­tured right

Soul leg­end Sam Cooke Speak­ing out: Candi Sta­ton

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