October 29, 2012 9:33
Singer-songwriter and Massive Attack collaborator Terry Callier dies
Cult figure blended jazz, funk and soul, and inspired Michael Kiwanuka and more
The Chicago-born performer was found dead at his home on Sunday (October 28).
Terry Callier's 50-year career began when he signed to Chess Records in 1962, aged just 17. Leaving behind the doo-wop sound of his teenage years, his most famous trio of albums – 1972's 'Occasional Rain', 1973's 'What Color Is Love' and 1974's 'I Just Can't Help Myself' exemplified the hybrid of funk, soul and jazz that he created.
Callier quit music to study computer programming and sociology in the 1980s, but his cult grew through the patronage of the UK's Acid Jazz label and a younger generation of singer-songwriters, and he was eventually lured back to performing and recording. He collaborated with British singer-songwriter Beth Orton in 1997, appearing on her 'Best Bit' EP, and worked with writers and producers Massive Attack on his 2009 comeback album 'Hidden Conversations'.
Earlier this year, Mercury Music Prize-nominated singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka described the appeal of Callier's music. "Those nuances, colors, times and chords inspire me so much I want to make a mish-mash of all that. I knew Terry's first album very well," Kiwanuka told the Sun Times
In 1996, Callier told the same newspaper: “People respond to me because I’m a throwback to an older tradition that believed you should do more than sing a song for an audience, that you should make people feel something. You can make accessible music and still sing about love and peace and truth and life and death. In the end, those are the only things that matter.”
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