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.