Philip Bailey says his mother told him he was singing before he was talking. That early love of music has kept the singer, songwriter and percussionist on the world music stage for nearly five decades with legendary Earth, Wind and Fire and as a solo artist.
Bailey and his fellow band members will perform their 40+ years of hits on July 24 at Cadence Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park.
Bailey begin his life in music as a percussionist. He says one of his aunts took him to a parade where he first heard the bass drums, which led him to improvising with with trash cans. He credits his switch to the snare drum to the excellent music in the schools program in his native Denver.
As a child he listened to his mother’s favorite singers Mahalia Jackson and Dinah Washington and would mimic them in their key. He did not know he was developing what would become his world famous falsetto and four-octave vocal range. A natural baritone, Bailey has taken on the vocals of his late friend and EWF partner, Maurice White.
As a member of EWF, he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, has won 7 Grammy’s and has an honorary doctorate in music from the Berklee School of Music. Earth, Wind and Fire will be honored in this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, too. Bailey is also a prolific songwriter and is a member, of course, of The Songwriters Hall of Fame. He says songwriting is “an other worldly thing. You can’t make it happen, it moves through you for something greater.” He quotes his friend Quincy Jones, “Inspiration goes down the street and stops at your house. If you don’t get with it it goes to the next house. You have to get up and get on it!”
Along with touring with EWF, Bailey has a new solo album, “Love Will Find A Way.” He credits his daughter Trinity and son Philip along with his friend Deshawn Dawson for giving him the impetus to work on the album, which he funded himself. He says that the work on the album was augmented by the generosity of many talented musicians who perform with him including Christian McBride, Chick Correa, Kamasi Washington, Bilal and will.i.am.
A special addition to the upcoming performance of EWF is an afternoon program administered by the Music Is Unity foundation created by Bailey to reach children and adolescents in foster care to introduce them to the world of music production. The program lets young people come backstage for a sound check and an introduction to what happens to put on a major concert. Spaces are limited. Reserve a spot through firstname.lastname@example.org.