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Guy Sebastian by David Petranker
Guy Sebastian has found his groove.
While his mates were listening to New Kids On The Block and Pearl Jam, Guy Sebastian would play classic soul tunes from the likes of Otis Redding, Al Green and Wilson Pickett. So it's not surprising that Guy has opted to put his own stamp on the Memphis soul tunes that have helped define him as one of Australia's top musicians.
With many of the songs already part of Guy's repertoire, 'The Memphis Album' is a record that Guy has been itching to make, showing off his take on soul classics like 'Soul Man', 'In The Midnight Hour', 'Knock On Wood', 'Respect Yourself' and 'Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay'.
Some of these songs have been covered many times over but Guy's recordings, anchored by his amazing vocal delivery, have brought something new and refreshing to their sound. "These songs transcend all these generational differences; people still love and enjoy them," says Guy. "I grew up with these songs, I had a taste for them when I was really young. I guess for me, doing a concept album, I didn't want to be dressing up as someone else or being an impersonator. I just wanted to bring a modern take on the songs and yet remain true to the songs and retain an old school feel."
Guy, as many Australians would know, won the first series of Australian Idol. He has subsequently released three albums - 'Just As I Am', 'Beautiful Life' and 'Closer To The Sun' - and all have gone platinum or multi-platinum.
As Guy continues to evolve as an artist, the young singer has found a perfect creative space with The Memphis Album. "This has been a musically emotional journey for me because I have found the musical DNA that I need to stick with," Guy says. With a very clear idea of the album he wanted to make, Guy packed his bags and flew to the United States, spending time in Los Angeles and New York working with some of the industry's biggest names. But it was in the soul music capital of Memphis that this album came together.
Wanting to get it right, Guy gathered together top soul musicians Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Potts, Lester Snell, Dave Smith, Rick Steff, Jim Spake, Kirk Smothers, Scott Thompson and Howard Lamb. Many of these musicians wrote and recoded the original versions of these songs with the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Al Green and Wilson Pickett and were members of the MGs, playing with Booker T, and the Blues Brothers Band. Steve Cropper, who co-wrote 'In The Midnight Hour', 'Knock On Wood', and '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay', also produced the album with Guy.
Despite this extraordinary calibre of musicianship, Guy rose admirably to the task at hand. "Initially I thought I'm going to get there and I'm going to freak out," Guy says. "I thought I was going to feel so inadequate but I got there and something grabbed hold of me and I just knew this was my arena. If I am going to shine in any arena, it is going to be blues and soul."
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