When I was a tween, my mother started dating Billy Rainey, a man from Ohio who had a black Corvette with T tops and an amazing Rock album collection. He was funny as hell and my Mom’s pecky cypress cabin in Sarasota was almost always reverberating with the best music in the world.
It was the most formative time in my life musically I think, that magical, difficult time when you’re not a child anymore but not an adult either, right in the middle, innocent and hungry, so many conflicting feelings, but that’s a story for another time. Out of all of Billy’s albums, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, the one that I couldn’t get enough of literally was Bad Company’s BAD CO. A stark Black album with huge white lettering and nothing else.
From the first drum crack on Can’t Get Enough, to the last mournful, gorgeous, epic seagull, I was hooked. The music is simple and hard. Clean. The absolute education on how blues and Rock are related. But to hear Paul Rodgers sing ANYTHING yanks at your soul immediately. There’s a reason he’s called “The Voice”. There have been many wonderful singers in the world, Freddie Mercury, Lou Gramm, who I realize have influenced me a great deal, but none had the profound effect that this man had on my singing and my life.
As a young singer, I knew from a very early age that I wanted to sing and write my own songs, and had never heard anyone sing so soulfully yet with such POWER, beauty and strength. Never reverting to a falsetto, which I’ve sometimes felt is a bit sheepish or lazy, always clear, never affected. Timeless. Paul Rodgers was and is still the epitome of a singer. The best there is. I listened over and over, singing with all my heart for countless hours, months and years, fashioning my voice to be like his. Almost carving my voice to be like his. I’d harmonize, I’d counter, I couldn’t get enough. And then one day decades later I got to meet him, and he invited me to sing Little Wing with him. That’s another story too. There’s an mp3 out there and he introduces me as his friend and then sings Twinkle Twinkle little star to me in his lovely British accent, every time I hear it I still get a bit choked up. If I could go back in time and tell that little girl that she would get to sing with him, and to keep going, never stop, well, you know, that would be amazing, so I sort of tell her every day. It was in every sense a dream come true, and when his manager, Chris, called me the female Paul Rodgers. Whew, I’ll take it. Thank you. Paul, I love you till my last breath, thanks for the years of training, thank you for the music, I’m not alone, all around the world, you’re the soundtrack of our lives, we all are a bit better off because of you.
album photo taken by Sarasota Post