Artist Q&A: William Bell

When Take Me To The River – Live! arrives at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center it is sure to provide a night of memorable music. With Grammy®- winners William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite and Bobby Rush along with The Hi Rhythm Section, the Stax Academy Alumni Band, Frayser Boy and Al Kapone, plus music director Boo Mitchell, the Memphis Soul and Rhythm and Blues Revue explores the soul of American music. We chatted with singer William Bell who participated in the documentary of the same name and is now headed out on tour fresh off his first Grammy win, about what it means to bring this show to audiences around the county.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to become a musician?
A.When I was very young, I thought I was going to become a doctor because that is what my mother wanted me to be. But then when I was 10 years old, I saw Sam Cooke - and that changed my life.

Q. You have been recording and performing for more than 50 years. What has changed most for you over that time?
A. Technology. Modern technology makes it easier to record and produce music. It also makes live performances better.

Q. More than 55 years after your first single, you took home a Grammy Award® for best Americana Album for “This is Where I Live.” How did that feel?
A. Wonderful! It’s an affirmation of many years of hard work as an artist and in the music business.

Q. How did you get involved with the “Take Me To The River” documentary?
A. Through Boo Mitchell, who runs royal studios in Memphis. He introduced me to Martin Shore, the director of the project. Martin explained the idea to me and I liked it, so I signed on. Later, Martin called and said Snoop Dogg was interested and he ended up collaborating with me on one of my songs in the film.

Q. The film largely focuses on the musicians of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. Why do you think its important to take that music and bring it to communities across the country?
A. Because it has influenced the country and the world. I also want to keep the music viable and pass the torch to a new generation.

Q. Now a few artists from the documentary are headed out on tour. What are you most looking forward to about traveling with and performing with these artists?
A. Spreading a message of love and communication through music!

Q. What do you hope audiences take away from your performance?
A. The importance of music and how it influences people’s lives.

Q. Have you ever been to Wisconsin? Are you excited to visit Appleton?
A.Yes, I’ve been to Wisconsin, but never to Appleton. I’m looking forward to seeing my friend Cory Chisel there. He was a co-writer on one of the songs on my latest, Grammy-winning, album “This Is Where I Live.”
Tickets for Take Me To The River Live! on Wednesday, November 8 are on sale now!
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