A tribute to Blind Willie Johnson takes you into the world of early blues and gospel and the making of an all-star compilation.
“Johnson’s music was charred with purgatorial fire- more than sixty years later, you can still smell the smoke on it.” –The History of the Blues
“It would be impossible to list every musician influenced by Blind Willie Johnson, because it would require mentioning almost everyone who ever listened to one of his records.” -Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music
Help create new recordings by Tom Waits, Sinead O’Connor, Lucinda Williams, Luther Dickinson, Cowboy Junkies, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Blind Boys of Alabama, Rickie Lee Jones and More!
Our mission is to shine a light and acknowledge this important and influential artist currently representing mankind in outer space.
NASA recently confirmed that mankind has left the solar system for the first time with its Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space after a 36 year journey. Onboard the spacecraft is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk, carrying the music of Bach and Mozart, and Blind Willie Johnson’s recording Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground. Meanwhile back on earth, Blind Willie Johnson’s significant contribution to the world of music is far too often overlooked. Our mission is to shine a light and acknowledge this important and influential artist currently representing mankind in outer space.
The creator of the award-winning album and independently produced Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan hopes to return in 2014 with God Don’t Never Change:The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson. God Don’t Never Change is a production of Jeffrey Gaskill and Burning Rose Productions that invites backers of the project to share in the album making process and a celebration of Blind Willie Johnson. His previous effort which The New York Times called “The best African-American covers of Dylan songs since Jimi Hendrix” earned Grammy nods in the categories of Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for Gonna Change My Way of Thinking by Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples.
Blind Willie Johnson’s records continue to capture listeners in a way that few singers or musicians have equaled. The list of artists he has influenced goes back to Robert Johnson and forward to the White Stripes.
When you think about tradition you can’t fail to notice the Blind Boys of Alabama (Motherless Children) a group that started in 1939 in Johnson’s lifetime and still continues today. Cowboy Junkies (Jesus Coming Soon) radiate that haunting ethereal feel of the early blues. You can hear Johnson’s influence and themes in Luther Dickinson’s (Bye and Bye I’m Going to See the King) work both as a solo artist and with the North Mississippi Allstars. Lucinda Williams (Nobody’s Fault But Mine) comes from that part of the country, where Louisiana meets Texas, just a stones throw from Beaumont where Willie spent his last years. A new recording of Johnson material by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi (Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning) is certain to bring out the best in his sweet slide and her bluesy voice. No one can sing with the raw emotional depth of Rickie Lee Jones (Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground) and she will reveal the words to this acclaimed song. Sinead O’Connor (Lord I Just Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes) recently opened her gospel session concerts at Lincoln Center with two of Johnson’s songs and is sure to conjure more magic here. Tom Waits (Soul of a Man AND John The Revelator) has agreed to not one but two recordings for the album and one can easily compare the rough gravely voice of Mr. Waits to that of Willie Johnson.