Soul singer Al Green believes in giving the people what they want to hear.
When the 11-time Grammy Award winner takes the stage at Bell Auditorium on Saturday to close out the third Westobou Festival, fans will hear the classic R&B tunes that made him a music legend, including Tired of Being Alone, Let's Stay Together and I'm Still in Love With You , Green said during a recent telephone interview.
People have come to know and love these songs, Green said. A few weeks ago, he performed in Utah during his nationwide tour, and an audience member didn't mind voicing her opinion when a song didn't sound the way she was used to hearing it.
"A little lady right down in front. I didn't hit the note right, and she said, 'Aww, Al, come on. That ain't right!' " Green said.
So, Green sang the line again to correct the note. The lady responded, "Now, that's it."
"That tickled me and the band. We were cracking up. She knew the song so well until she even knew the chords," Green said.
While performing once in Paris, Green said, he had to come back on stage to sing Let's Stay Together because the crowd absolutely insisted.
Green achieved stardom in the 1970s, and his songs remain popular among audiences worldwide. Augusta is just one of many stops on Green's tour schedule, which has included Australia and Europe.
The legendary soul and R&B icon has achieved many honors, including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, the Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame. He's also the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Also an ordained minister, the Rev. Al Green has been pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tenn., for 30 years.
"That is the thing that keeps me alive on the inside, that keeps me high-spirited, that keeps me bright, that keeps me illuminated," he said.
Green left the music industry years ago to pursue his ministry and sing gospel music. As a member of the clergy, people sometimes question his desire to sing R&B songs. Love and Happiness is the song that people criticize him the most for singing.
"I had to go pray about this. I asked, 'Why do you give me these songs? If you're going to save me, what do you give me love and happiness for?' He said, 'God is love, Al. And Christ is the happiness of the world,' " Green said.
In 2008, Green released an album, Lay it Down , a collaboration with several contemporary R&B and hip hop artists who performed songs from his career. The album landed him two Grammy Awards, the first he had received for the R&B category.
He worked alongside R&B singer-songwriters John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae. Green co-produced the album with drummer Ahmir "?uestlove " Thompson from the Roots and keyboardist James Poyser.
The soul singer is also working on some new music.
"I've written five songs already, and I've got five more to go. I think we'll get a little time after we finish the next segment here," Green said.
The songs will have a common theme from his past hits: L-O-V-E. He enjoys talking about love, affection and forgiveness, he said.
"All the songs we make are designed for ... being in love. And being proud of being in love," Green said. "That's something to be proud of. That's a commandment, in fact, that we love each other."