tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 18, 2009 12:01am-12:25am EST
tav: whahelp you make t turnngeing the wehingntdidot hi d talk aboy personal life. i did not want to talk about being compared to frank sinaa. as i get older, i realize that life is about more than that. you kind of mellow out. the artistic passion did not. tavis: the are many things that you been are not comftable talking aout, they might come . >> that's ay. tavis: the idea for doingct of
"your songs," is? >> i hve done 27 record my own. when i go into e studio, it is deciding whether to write the songs, doovers. everything is my decision that is huge lury for me. this is very rare. tavis: aery rare. clive davis ask if i would be interested in workinon him -- with him on aollaboration. he wanted to feature really popular songs that everyone knew he wand to feure my singing and put that out in front. he wand to preserve my own mical skill which means not getting anotr ranger or another producer. to do it like i have been doing it. -- heanted to preserve my
musical skil which means that getting another peon for arranging the music. tavis: given a voice that yo have, how hard d you have to work to figure out if it would rk on the songs that were selected as the list of options? >> there were some songs on the list that i was not sure about mainly because they were not prested to me. fo example, was not sure about "london calling," by the clash. how am i ging to p my own thing this? there we a couple of songs that came fromim that i eventually greto love and got excitedboutwriting the arraement for. tavis: i' talked to many kinds of artis over the years,here have bn somehat have wked to find their signature sound.
others have wked through a lot of differt methods. your vce is very unique, did you work afterhat? as it always sound that way? >> you develoyour own tehnique and by virt of being an individual, you have your o sound. i he had a ecord deal f the past 20 or so years. you have the opportunity to constantly work in a studio and a performing in a garmentwhich eps you in a develed mode. is thing growingabout growing up in a jazz musician situion, you end up with a lot of influences. frk sinatra,ouilouis armstrong, sammdavis jrohn colane.
when you're young, you not only try to be like them, you try to them. i was transcribing of charlie parker's solos. we listen to how peoe phrase things. you are making an invesent the probabili th over time you will eventually merge with your own style. i a just getting that point no tavis: 25 mlion recds later. [laughter] when you came on the scene, i could -- aside from your prodigious talents, i could seek my own mind why you would work in the short run. for many ople, this was a
nolty. he sound like sinatra. a nice thrback. i was not sure that itould last. i am glad it s. were you on certain? >> one thing i do not lack is confidence. i amery confident you doubt your own abilities that time you put a record on and you wonder why you were pling piano. you keep ing and you keep working at it for me,hen i was sitting on practice room, some people will listen t me practice. the last thing i thoug is am going to makeit. i ws hoping that i was getting beerecause i want to keep studying with this man. he would cut the li. that kind of work eic and paranoia to become a goo musician tmped any idea of being famousmaking money, or
being successful in any way. it ays withme to ts day. it was not so much abo sticking around, whether i was famous or not i was going to continue doing wh i was doing. this was playing, siing, writing, trng to be a better musician. tavis:ou mentioned people who influenced you. byy count, ellis marsalis might be the chance -- might be the first person thayou had a chanceo work wit talk to lethose people who are alive that have fluencedou. >> ellis would behe biggest living infences. he could really back up what he said. he wasnot one of these guys th s a teacher because perhs he had filed as a musician. was a phenonalather and sband and he chose to be a
educatorrobably to support his family. what an incredibly fortuitou opportunity f me to he him in new orleans as a readily accessible influence and tutor. he is probly number one. i look at his sons, branford maalis. i have done recordings with him. when y are sittingat the pianond he is playing the saxophe, this isike going into the ring with a. you have to have your ga. it is all fun but when you are working, youave to produce. these are ling, breathing musicians. these are peoplethat i idolize ani look up to. tavis:he merciless brhers
play on this --marsalibrothe play on this. are you harry connick jr. if you are not born and bred in new orleans? >> no, this has a huge eect on who i . mfootball team, this a huge part of my life, fo example the od, guo, red beans and rice, all of that uff that we t down there. awfish, that is a huge part of my life the pple, the dersity, the brz of the talen badth ofhe talent. i would n be here if i was from anotherown. tavis:ou were as dedicated as anyone to make sure that you g your home wn rebuild.
we are starting our wk on the fth anniversary. what are your thoughts? the good news is that while itecurity -- id and firatively and literally blew the roo off of a lot of thing that need to be dcussed, it opened up a verymportant dialogue. it has been a bitterswt deal because we lost l of people. e lost a lot of propey. the fod side is that the city in many regards is better than it w bere. -- the flip side is that the city in many regards is better than it was before. we have the musicians vlage which is about 80 residences and we are about to sta construction on an 18,000 ft center for mus.
about 80% of the cupants of e village are mucians. that is l great. if tt efrt continues parallel to the things that need to go on with tourism and of the things thathe government has to deal with, it will be better than bore. tavis: tre's so much about new orleans that is worthy of preserving. canou preserve a musical traditn? it being preserved inew orlean >> you can preserve a tradition. it boils down to having places to play. we used t go down to th bourbon street, preservation hall, maison bourbon.
i wld go down there and i uld sit in. their worst places to go to play. aftethe katrinaurricane, the opportities diminished. -- there werelaces to go to play. the ellarsalicenter wil be the opportunitto have musicians for better living in the villag gat musicis, going into teacng. his i very much passed on orally and by tting and playing. yes, you can passt on. we have responsibility to do something. en i was growg up, we did noassume that the levees were going to break. i was a few blocksfrom one of the leeshat broke. we usedo play on thlevy now,we he a resibili to