Calvin Simon: "He's Coming Back" radio hitmaker once with Parliament / Funkadelic

Thursday 6th June 2019

Tony Cummings spoke to veteran West Virginia-based gospel singer CALVIN SIMON about his roots in P-Funk

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Calvin: "I hadn't seen members of the group on stage since 1979. It was the first time that all the original people had been back together because of all the friction and lawsuits and everything that was involved over the years. I swore I would never be back on a stage with Parliament-Funkadelic again."

Tony: Since then has there been any kind of connection with you?

Calvin: "No. The only connection that we had we got a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys and we were all there. And on May 11th we're going to receive our Grammys with our names and everything on it and that's about it. That's the only occasion I have to get together with George but I speak with Grady and Fuzzy quite often. Raymond the bass player died a couple of years ago."

Tony: Have any of the other band members shown any interest in the Christian faith?

Calvin: "Fuzzy is doing quite well. He's done a couple of gospel things. He's a pastor in Detroit, Michigan right now."

Tony: You hinted that the gospel church finds it difficult to accept artists who were once working exclusively in R&B. It's almost as if you go off to do R&B, you can't come back and do gospel. It's a strange idea but I've spoken to R&B artists in the past who felt the time was ready to do gospel but they've seldom felt very accepted within many gospel radio stations or even churches. How have you found it?

Calvin: "I've found it difficult because my music is so different than anyone else's that sometimes people fear things they don't understand or they don't know about or can't relate to. But if they put all the prejudices aside and listen to the music from the music point of view, the lyrics being in the right place, the harmonies. We learnt from the old school where you got to have a beginning, a middle and an ending. And Berry Gordy once said if you don't get 'em in the first 30 seconds, you don't get 'em. And that's either R&B or Christian. But I think if people listen more to the music and the lyrics it will have a different outcome. But you can't force people to like anything one way or another. The only thing I can do is just do what I do. When the music comes, I don't know what it's going to be, but I know it will always be God's music for the rest of my life."

Tony: But isn't it true that doing what you do means that for the R&B audience they're not going to be that interested because your songs are about the Lord? And for the gospel audience they're not going to be too interested because your music is so different from what they're used to. So aren't you falling between two stools?

Calvin: "The thing about that, for me, is that I'm receiving personal gratification because I'm doing what I think God wants me to do, which is to write music and perform it and it's up to other people how they decide, to accept it or reject it. But in my heart I am one happy man because I have been promised eternal life. And I don't care what accolades you receive, none of them beats that one and that's what I hold on to. There's going to be a day of reckoning and I want to stand there and I want to hear those words 'job well done, my good and faithful servant'." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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