photographer / Hedi Slimane
story / Katie Deutsch
Having Burger Records music sensation and super babe CURTIS HARDING serenade me at the Gansevoort Park Hotel is hardly an assignment. I’ve been grooving to his album SOUL POWER as soon as I got it so hearing his velvet smooth and all rock’n’roll voice in real life is like something out of a dream. He has the type of balance in his vocals that makes you excited, entranced and freaking out all at once. Just listen to “Keep on Shining” the hit song off his current record and see if you don’t experience at meta-LCD ear trip. SOUL POWER is an organic compilation of music album that does goes beyond genre’s and instead does what is says, gives your soul power. Some of my favorite songs on the like “Castaway” might make you cry, “Freedom” sounds like it could be a Santana tune from the 70s and “I Don’t Wan’t To Go Home,” sounds like a Atlanta grunge punk scenester anthem. I’ll mention here he is an Atlanta staple in the music scene and also plays with the Black Lips, Cole Alexander in band Night Sun. I will also mention as you can see in the picture that he is a muse to Hedi Slimane who hot him for a recent YSL campaign. Just some backstory…
He made a name for himself on Atlanta but Harding’s style was birthed in Michigan and bred on the road. He grew up on gospel, with his mother taking him around the country as she sang Gospel for different churches, and it became his way of life. Harding says of this time,
“It gave me experience performing. That’s one, and two just seeing how genuine people are when you touch them with a word or a song. Not religion necessarily, but when you say something that connects with another person. I remember times after singing with my Mom; people would come to my mom and say, “That song really touched me. I was going through something.” There were even instances where people told her that they were on the verge of suicide and a song actually changed their mind. That’s the power of music. It saves lives.”
Singing to save souls transitioned to singing soul music when Curtis got an offer to sing back up for such artists as Cee-Lo Green and Outcast. Between solo projects and his other band Night Sun, he got signed to Burger Records and recorded SOUL POWER.
“I was getting record offers years ago when I was singing back up for Cee-Lo [Green] and I turned them down a lot because I knew I wasn’t there yet. You have to create your style. You can be the best guitar player in the world technically, but if you don’t have any style they aren’t going to hear you… That is the best advice I ever got from those guys.”
Curtis was listening. And singing. And writing. And by the time he went into that studio he was ready. The album was completed in two weeks time. That is so fast that superman on cocaine couldn’t have done it faster. What are his secrets? He won’t tell. But he did have this to say:
“I did a lot of stuff on the fly. I would get up there and if I didn’t like the way I worded a song on paper I would change it off the top. I attribute that to my Hip Hop background. Rapping. To me coming up with song lyrics is way easier… A song could be just five lines. Hip-Hop you have to have 12 bars of verse, chorus… If you want to be respected.
SOUL POWER starts with a kick ass song titled, “Next Time,” and it’s so fun that you don’t realize it’s a track about lost LOVE. Breaking up never sounded so good! This is clearly attributed to Curtis Harding’s innate handling of soul music, and his divine outlook on romance.
“It’s not a negative song at all. I’ve always had an optimistic lens on love; you have to, going into it. Love is not a negative thing. If it is lost it can be found again. “Next Time” was definitely about a relationship for me… I’m sure she knows. I hope she knows.”
For the LOVE of god, I hope she knows it too. Just in case she doesn’t care, one would ask, what type of woman takes Mr. Harding’s breath away?
“I have no particular race or style of woman that I like, if you shine than I will see it. That takes my breath away. There is no particular, I just like woman. I have always loved woman…. If there were no women than there would be no reason anything. I wouldn’t be singing. I would be trying to discover a planet with women.
This is a man who has his priorities straight!
Chilling in the hotel suite talking R&B classics and doing impromptu Instagram photo sessions in the bathtub with the Jimi Hendrix of my world not bad for a days work! Now, go download SOUL POWER and change your summer. Change your life!