A member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Calvin Simon made his mark in music with Parliament Funkadelic. But the 74-year-old singer recently shifted focus from funk to Gospel with the release of his second solo album, It’s Not Too Late.
The track list for the new project (October 2016) reads like a synopsis of his high-profile yet inspiring life, which includes stints as a war veteran, rock & roll pioneer, and cancer survivor. Calvin’s powerful story was recently featured on The 700 Club.
It’s an honor for Divine Detour to host this exclusive interview.
At what point did you know that music was to be your life’s work?
When I was seven or eight years old, TV had first come out and we were fortunate enough to have one. I was also just getting into singing. One of the first things I saw on that TV was Nat King Cole, in a white tux, white bow tie with processed hair, playing a white baby grand. He was so suave and the music so smooth, he was just amazing.
There were few people that looked like me on TV at that time, let alone one that was so sophisticated. I decided right then and there, that’s what I intended to do with my life.
Your music career has certainly been about change, redirection, detours. What specifically led you from “Funkadelic” into Gospel?
When I was fourteen in Beckley, WV, I had a family situation that ultimately lead to a forced relocation to NJ. This move tore me away from not only the only family I knew, but also my own church. As a result, this move left a hole and for several generations led me looking for something new to fill the lost connection. This relocation was less than successful, and at sixteen I found myself completely on my own.
Searching to regain lost connections, music was even then the one constant. The search led me to becoming a founding member of the do-op group The Parliaments, which became the stepping stone to Parliament Funkadelic. I began to find pieces of what I lost within music and every advancement was another piece that seemed to come back. But even with the successes, it was never quite whole. It wasn’t until I turned back to Jesus and the church that I finally felt whole again. Jesus was the piece that music could never replace.
It only made sense at that point, both the music and Jesus were needed to finally regain what I felt I had lost all those many years prior. Yes, it was a long road with lots of twist and turns, but in the end it brought me back home.
Let’s talk about your new CD It’s Not Too Late (October 2016). Was there a theme or foundation song for the project?
This project was literally given to me in a dream. The song Needing Someone (It’s Not Too Late) became the anthem for the album, with the lyrics delivering the message I was given to share. ‘Don’t hesitate. It’s not too late, to ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior.’
The dream carried the project forward with veracity, as everyone I shared the dream with seemed to understand how powerful the message was. Even now, the musicians on the project and I joke about the ‘Sanctified Funk.’
Those who create usually tap into a personal toolbox of elements to define their style. For example, a painter might use color, light, and/or shadows in s certain way to “sign” his work. A novelist might use syntax, pacing, or punctuation. What two or three elements most define who you are as a vocalist and performer?
First and foremost is truth, attention to detail next, and as a performer living it all on the stage 100%. These three elements have perhaps been the keystones to my career. No matter what direction I was headed, I kept these three elements as principles of my actions.
Your grandmother provided a powerful influence on your life. What song on your new CD would she love the most?
I think her favorite would be Jesus Is A Friend Of Mine. She was a firm believer in a relationship with Jesus and had always taught me that I could go to Him for anything. The line ‘Jesus is a friend of mine, I can call Him up anytime,’ is a constant truth she instilled in me.”
A few fun questions…
Whether you’re at home or on tour, what is your favorite comfort food and why?
This is an easy one, good fried chicken, pinto beans, and cornbread. Southern comfort food!
What’s the name of the last GREAT book you read?
Though the Bible was the first book I ever read (outside of Dick and Jane Primers), there were a few books between the two. The last great book I read was Oral Roberts ‘The Miracle of Seed Faith.” This book saved my life and ultimately lead me back to Jesus, and for that I will forever be eternally grateful.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
When I was young I had a Boxer name Boots-Gal who I grew up with. I loved her dearly, so I would call myself a dog person. However, after exposure to agent-orange in the service I developed an allergy to dog dander. I haven’t been able to own pets since then.
Thank you, Calvin. It’s an honor to have you as a guest at DivineDetour. May God continue to bless your walk with Him.
I would like to thank you at DivineDetour.com for this opportunity to share part of my testimony. Always remember Jesus loves you, and so do I.
~ ~ ~
For more information about Calvin, visit his website.
To purchase It’s Not Too Late, log on to: