Tue. Dec. 12, 2017

Teddy Pendergrass: Believe in Love!

Some time by Autumn 1993. I came back home to get a message on my answering machine offering me to have a phone conversation with Teddy Pendergrass further to the release of his ‘A Little More Magic’ album…

Teddy PendergrassNo need saying as to how I felt overwhelmed at the perspective of exchanging a few words with the man. But no need stating neither as to how I found myself quite frustrated when the publisher of the mag I was working for back then rejected it. Firstly explaining he got it too close to the deadline. Then saying the summary of the following issue was already full. Which is how the fruit of our conversation never saw the light. Therefore emaining on a tape which I thought was lost until recently.

I let you imagine the surprise which happened to be mine when I found it back after all this time. And in the meantime, the emotion I felt when hearing Teddy‘s voice on my ol’ tape recorder…

I couldn’t help myself starting with ‘Do You Believe In Love’. The opening cut to his album which sadly didn’t get the recognition it deserved. A cool jammer with production work by the likes of Vincent and Reggie Calloway which to me pretty much stood midway between the man’s inclination for love songs and his obvious will to groove at times… “That’s pretty much how I felt since the beginning”, he enthuzed. “I started singing at 2 something, meaning that I was born to sing. But I also learnt to play drums by myself, meaning that I definitely had the rhythm in me also. I was just not too sure about the path I would follow back then. Which is how I ended up doing both. I used to sing and drum on almost everything on the radio with the dream it could become real one day…”

A fact which might pretty well explain the diversity of the producers Teddy Pendergrass has been working with from an album to another… “You got it!”, he said to me. “People most likely have special talents for certain types of production. So when you aim to reach a wide crowd it makes sense to combine talents.
Besides, I find it quite advantaging writing and eventually producing with other people. It sort of gives me some extra objectivity and dimension I may not have perceived on my own.
Last but not least, I always search for the most challenging material. I’ve come to know what works for me along with time, even though I wouldn’t get to far out of that realm…”

Further down in the tracklisting, one could find Barry White in the credits as the producer of ‘Say It’. Nothing of a coincidence neither, I supposed. “Damn right once more, my man…”, he answered. “Barry is the incarnation of Love in the noblest way of the term…” This bringing us to the obvious sex appeal which they both happened to have. “Sex appeal is in no way something you can build up. You either got it or not. It’s never been intentional. I suppose that’s pretty much related to the themes I expressed. Just like Barry as a matter of fact…

An extra thing which most likely encourages respect is the terrible times Teddy Pendergrass has gone thru. The period which followed the car crash which left him paralyzed from the waist down back on Mar. 18, 1982. When so many would have given up on such circumstances, he persevered. “I suppose I thought it was all over for me for some time”, he said. “But things have turned differently. Of course, it wasn’t anymore the way it was. I’m thankful I found the force to keep on. That said, it’s nothing else but the principle of life, with its ups and downs for each of us. To a certain extend, I came to realize how I’ve been truly blessed…”

Interview: Teddy Pendergrass: Believe In Love

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