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Interviews
: The Soul Seekers


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Interview w/ Warryn Campbell (The Soul Seekers)

::  Official Web Site  ::
GospoCentric

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Look no further, church folks.  The essential sound of soul is brought to you courtesy of The Soul Seekers.  Their brand of kickin’ Quartet music is shaken up the very foundation of reverent church music established by pioneering groups like the Pilgrim Jubilees, The Blind Boys of Alabama and the Canton Spirituals.

With Teddy Campbell and Warryn Campbell (husbands of Mary Mary) at the helm of this all-star cast of musicians, producers and singers, The Soul Seekers of Southern California are bringing a hip, new flavor to the world of guitar-strokin’, bass-slappin’, drum-beatin’ church music known as Quartet music. 

This particular Gospel genre is more of an artistic expression that a numerical reference, which is fine for this 8-member group that has formed such respect and admiration for the music.  Joining Teddy and Warryn as part of The Soul Seekers are members, John “Jubu” Smith, Nisan Stewart, Charlie Bereal, Craig Brockman, Gerald Haddon and Eric Seats who have collectively composed, produced and performed a bag load of goodies that is sure to bring a smile to the faces of trailblazers like Harvey Watkins, Sr., Joe Ligon and Spencer Taylor.

With a slick production that only these young cats could pull together and an energy that comes, not only from youthful vitality but from heaven’s gates, The Soul Seekers are offering a subtle twist on Quartet music that is sure to broaden its already enormous appeal.

BLACKGOSPEL.COM recently chatted with elite producer and member of The Soul Seekers – Warryn Campbell – about his love affair with Gospel Quartet music, his influences as a youngster and the evolution of Gospel music’s newest ambassadors of the Quartet genre -The Soul Seekers.

Christopher Heron: Gospel quartet music is usually associated with places like Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.  So how did a group like The Soul Seekers from Southern California find a voice and inspiration?

Warryn Campbell: As far as I’m concerned, Quartet music has been here in California way before Mississippi or  Alabama and all those places I’ve seen.  The first time that I actually saw a Quartet show was here in Southern California on a Sunday afternoon around three o’clock.  I saw The Mighty Clouds of Joy; come to find out that they were from Oakland, California.

That did it for me.  

The first time I saw The Clouds in California, it made me want to go to the music store and buy Quartet music.  Then my best friend at the time, whose father is from Mississippi, had a radio show here and all he played was Quartet music.  I was able to go to their house and listen to a bunch of Quartet music, learned about it and appreciated it.

CH: As the producer and a silent third member of the Urban Contemporary smash success Mary Mary, it would come as a surprise to many that you would have such a fond appreciation and a natural affinity for Quartet music.  When did this love affair with music popularized by The Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Canton Spiritual, and The Blind Boys of Alabama, find its way into your musical mix?


THE SOUL SEEKERS

WC: I had to be about thirteen or fourteen years old, the first time I actually fell in love with the music.  And really, it was more so about how big, musically, it sounded is and how little instrumentation there actually was on stage.  There was a guitar player, a bass player and a drummer.  I mean that music sounded so huge; it’s like three guys back there playing like a full band.  It sounded so good it reminded me of Rock ‘n Roll.  

If you listen to a Rock ‘n Roll set, it was three musicians; it was like a guitar player, a drummer and a bass player and it was always a loud and big sound.  I also I noticed that no matter what artists are performing at a concert, if a Quartet act followed a Quartet act, you know the crowd was drained by the time the Contemporary Gospel act got up there.  It’s really hard to follow.

I saw how powerful the music was and I fell in love with it.  I went out and bought the Canton Spirituals and a Gospel video which had The Mighty Clouds of Joy, some old Shirley Caesar Quartet stuff that she used to do back in the day.  I bought everything, started studying and then I started learning those old songs with my bass guitar.  So, when a Quartet group came to town and they didn’t have a keyboardist or a bass player, I would sit in and play.

CH: My first introduction to the Soul Seekers was on The Percy Bady Experience ‘You Ought to Been There’, but I understand that the Soul Seekers have been diligently working together for many years.  So what finally led the Soul Seekers to release their debut project on Gospocentric Records?

WC: It was all about timing because every member of the group is a reputable producer, artist, writer and musician and is very busy.  I’m not the only one writing and producing with other groups.  We’ve got Nisan Stewart who is the founding member of the group.  He produces a lot of records and plays for a lot of different artists.  

Our lead singer, Teddy Campbell, was on the road with Britney Spears and people like that.  It was kind of hard to get him.  Then everybody else in the group, pretty much has the same story.  So in order to take time off for this project, we had to sit down and actually make it come together.  And when we finally did,  thank God, we finally got everyone committed to doing it, so we’re finally here now.

CH: You hit it right on the head; you have the most talented cast of musicians, vocalists and producers, all in one group.  Like your brother-in-law Ted, Nisan, John “Jubu” Smith and others.  What allowed so many talented folks who’ve all made a name for themselves to humbly come together and make up The Soul Seekers under the Gospo Centric banner?

WC: We’re all very good friends.  Nisan and Eric (Seats) I’ve known since I was nine years old; We’ve all grown up together.  So it was natural that we do something together as we got older.  We found out everyone had the same love for Quartet music.  It’s just friends coming together and we’re actually just doing it out of the love for the music.  We’re not really gonna do this ‘cause we’re gonna make some money or make some records.  We’re doing it because we love it.  

We’re not really looking for anything in return; we just want to get onstage and touch somebody.  Everybody has pretty much been taken care of monetarily.  We weren’t really looking for a record label; we were just doing our own thing.  We were going to sell the records ourselves.  We figured why do it halfway.  We partnered up with Gospocentric Records.  We did our own album and they distributed it for us so it worked out incredibly.

CH: There have recently been some great quartet albums: The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Harvey Watkins Sr, The Williams Brothers and now The Soul Seekers.  With The Soul Seekers, there is a certain energy and vitality to your sound that probably comes with youth and a contemporary edge to the musicianship and production.  Do you believe there is a certain distinction in the sound and quality of The Soul Seekers that distinguishes its sound from other Quartets today?

WC: I can say that it may be different from some of the older recordings by Gospel Quartets but now we all have access to technology and everybody’s using it.  We’ve got the Gospel Wonders and the 7 Sons Of Soul that are out now and their sounds are both really incredible.  Back in the day, Gospel Quartets might have just recorded an album, never mixed it and just put it out.  But now, we can mix it, master it, EQ it and sweeten it up.  It’s a different age for all the Quartet groups.   

 

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Were you blessed by this interview? Please send feedback to features@blackgospel.com.

Posted: July 2005

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