New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
The Band of Heathens have announced an ambitious new project, a re-envisioning of Ray Charles' 1972 album A Message From The People, in its entirety. The band chose to re-record the often forgotten album because of its moving commentary on social justice, abuse-of-power, and its vision for a stronger, more-unified America.
Aptly titled A Message From The People Revisited, the record offers new takes on the original album's ten tracks including "Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong," "Heaven Help Us All," "Hey Mister," and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," presented in The Band of Heathens' own voice while staying true to the weight and tone of the originals - as well as Charles' own indelible interpretations. Also included is a gospel-infused version of "America The Beautiful," which the group has shared today.
The track is currently streaming on Rolling Stone Country, who writes "On 'America the Beautiful' - still the album's crown jewel, as well as its final track - the Band of Heathens mix the stomp of a roots-rock band with Stax-sized soul. There's upright piano, swirling organ and a full choir, all centered around an elastic vocal performance that would've made Charles proud." A Message From The People Revisited will be released in September, 2018. Listen: "America The Beautiful
Remarking on the power of Charles' 1972 version of the song, the band notes that "Ray saved for us his most powerful message and the perfect coda; the definitive version of 'America The Beautiful' is absolutely glorious. It is quite simply the apotheosis of soul."
The group was moved to record their own version of A Message From The People after listening to the album while on tour together in 2017. "We were on the road somewhere in New England when the topic of conversation drifted toward the troubled social climate in the country," writes the band. "We related similar experiences with how divisiveness was affecting those around us, how families were being torn apart over political and social issues." To lighten the mood the group turned to music and an out-of-print Ray Charles
album which immediately spoke to their sense of unease and discontent. "With the first notes of the opening track 'Lift Every Voice And Sing', Ray had our undivided attention. Often referred to as the Black National
Anthem, Ray's genius is in full flight from the get-go, singing with incredible jubilation and hope, hitting us like a ton of bricks. It seemed to us as if Ray Charles
was speaking to us and the issues of today, from the past."
The group soon decided that the soulful message of unity and perseverance in the album deserved to be shared again with modern listeners, and got to work at The Finishing School Recording studio in Austin with producer Steve Christensen. The results were striking in the group's ability to capture the energy and feeling of urgency that permeates Charles' landmark album. Upon first hearing A Message From The People Revisited, musical legend Quincy
Jones (who is credited as an Arranger on the original album) exclaimed, "It's a great interpretation and I admire their spirit to give it to charity!"
Proceeds from the record will be donated to Rock the Vote, in an effort to amplify the voice of the people.
Last year, The Band of Heathens made a giant leap with their full length album Duende, which landed on Rolling Stone's top 50 Americana and Country Albums of 2017 at #31. The subject of significant acclaim from Relix, No Depression, The Boot, Rolling Stone Country and others, Duende was the band's fifth studio album (and eighth overall), and marked their twelfth anniversary as a group.