Solomon Burke
Gig Seeker Pro

Solomon Burke

Band Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Solomon Burke"

The King of Rock and Soul is back. Solomon Burke, one of the greatest rhythm and blues vocalists of his generation, claimed that title in the early 1960s and returns 40 years later with a smashing new album produced by Don Was, the man behind hit records by Bonnie Raitt, the B-52's, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson and a whole host of rock groups and rock singers. Was gives the barrel- chested Burke a Rolling Stones-style accompaniment, a set of ringing songs that draws from the songbooks of Dylan, Hank Williams, the Stones and others. Burke makes the Band's "It Makes No Difference" all his own and generally gives everything he sings the kind of epic performance other singers can only dream about giving.

-- Joel Selvin - San Francisco Chronicle

"Solomon Burke Makes Do"

"I knocked this album up a couple of notches," Solomon Burke says of his latest effort, Make Do with What You Got, which hits stores March 1st. The record, the follow-up to the soul legend's high-profile 2002 return Don't Give Up on Me, finds the singer, velvety baritone intact, belting songs by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Hank Williams.
His cover of Williams' high-minded "Wealth Won't Save Your Soul" feels commanding through Burke's husky croon. "I got a chance to express the feeling of Hank Williams like nobody else could in his own country spirit," he says. "And I got a chance to say, 'Gosh, Hank, we miss you.'"

While Don't Give Up felt like an intimate secret, earnest and brooding, Make Do is celebratory and rocking, with organs and electric guitar prominent in the mix. The up-tempo sound is due both to production work by veteran Don Was (the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt) and Burke's survivor mentality.

"When you think of someone like myself -- with five decades in this business, sixty-five years old with twenty-one children and seventy-four grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren -- I've already said [to fans], 'Don't give up on me,'" says the longtime preacher and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. "And you have to have the faith and strength yourself to say, 'I'm not giving up on me. I'm going to continue.'"

The title track, written specifically for Burke by Dr. John, is about just that. "At this point in my life, we just have to take what we have and turn it around and make it better," Burke muses. "It's always important to me to keep that touch of spirituality in what I'm doing and in everything we're recording."

Burke also covers "I Got the Blues" by the Rolling Stones. They famously covered Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody," and now he's returning the favor.

"Who would think the Rolling Stones would say, 'Solomon, here's a good song for you,'" says Burke, "'sing this one'?"

Solomon Burke tour dates:

3/3: Baltimore, Ram's Head Live
3/4: New York, B.B. King's
3/5: Uncasville, CT, Mohegan Sun's Wolfden
3/18: San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts Theater
3/24: Byron Bay, Australia, Byron Bay Festival
3/26: Byron Bay, Australia, Byron Bay Festival
4/30: Phoenix, McDowell Mountain Music Festival

(Posted Feb 25, 2005)

- Rolling Stone Online --

"Burke 'Makes Do' With Dylan, Dr. John"

Veteran soul vocalist Solomon Burke will release his next album, "Make Do With What You Got," March 1 via Shout! Factory. On the Don Was-produced follow-up to 2002's acclaimed "Don't Give up on Me," Burke interprets songs such as Bob Dylan's "What Good am I?," the Band's "It Makes No Difference," Hank Williams' "Wealth Won't Save Your Soul" and the Rolling Stones' "I Got the Blues."

Among the artists contributing new material to the project are Van Morrison ("At the Crossroads") and Dr. John (the title track).

"Don't Give up on Me" (Fat Possum) revitalized Burke's career, winning him a Grammy for best contemporary blues album. The set featured material by Dylan, Morrison, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, among others.

Burke, who is nominated for the W.C. Handy Blues Awards' entertainer of the year trophy, recently appeared on the Rolling Stones concert set "_Live Licks_
2060) ," performing his own "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love."

The lone date on his performance schedule is a March 18 show at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts.

- Jonathan Cohen

"Rolling Stone"

If you're a songwriter and one day the phone rings and somebody tells you soul giant Solomon Burke is looking for songs, you really have only one optionL Get busy. Even if you're Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, or Tom Waits.
Burke is the rare singer who makes singers sound wise beyond their words - he finds ache lying dormant in unlikely places and manages to pinpoint, with GPS accuracy, the murky emotional terrain within the lyrics. He's been singing definitive version of soul songs since back when the Stones (who covered his "Cry to Me") were kids, showing men how to plead with passion and dignity, teaching all who would listen the virtues of patience.
When producer Joe Henry put out the call for material, folks Burke had influenced - such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Waits, Wilson, Costello, Nick Lowe, and Dan Penn - responded with melodies well suited to the legend's bearish, exceptionally sensitive (and remarkably well-preserved) baritone. Patterning their songs on the declarative balladry and blues-inflected gospel of Burke's Atlantic classics, these writers give Burke plenty of room to work his slow-cooked magic. Some tracks sound as if they could be forgotten gems from the hey-day of soul (Penn's anguished title plea, Costello's courtroom drama "The Judgment"), and some have the galvanizing intensity of spirituals (Henry's "Flesh and Blood," Waits' timeless "Diamond in Your Mind"), but all of them share one essential trait: They wouldn't be nearly as rousing sung by anybody else. - Tom Moon

"USA Today"

The roster of contributing songwriters on Burke's new CD reads like a wish liste of rock bards and cult heros: Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Dan Penn, Joe Henry. What these tunesmiths have in common, aside from trunkfulls of critical accolades, is a reverent appreciation for the fiercely gritty but never overstated vocal authority that has made Burke one of R&B's most admired elder statesmen. Produced by Henry, this collection folds arrangements that are both stringent and achingly tender. The results range from Wilson and Andy Paley's spirited "Soul Searchin'" to Costello and Cait O'Riordan's sweetly plaintive "The Judgment." Marking these well-crafted songs with his signature grace and gusto, Burke leaves no doubt that he's a soul survivor. - Elysa Gardner


Legendary soul man Solomon Burke could shake heaven and earth just by singing the tax codes, so imagine what he can do with 11 songs written by the greatest songwriters on the planet. Here Burke shows us, pouring his heart into new tunes by fans like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, and Tom Waits. The results may feel like they wandered in from 1964, but with producer Joe Henry adding sonic sparkle to Burke's gritty, impassioned pipes, this isn't a rerun; it's and instant classic. - Victor Blair

"Soul Survivors - Doing More Than Making Do"

One of my favorite moments in the splendid movie Ray is when Ray Charles is in a Los Angeles recording studio — a far cry from the makeshift Atlantic shack that housed his early efforts — flanked by an orchestra for his recording of "Georgia On My Mind." As the genius is working on a decidedly mainstream arrangement, a group of his regular band members and backup singers look at each other worriedly, wondering just when it was that Ray lost his mind.

I like the moment so much because it shows the essential part that individual courage plays in the creative process for a musician who has to get out in front of people and sing. Charles made several courageous choices in his career, none greater than the decision to lead the way in combining R&B and gospel to help create soul music, which, when done right, conjures the agony and the ecstasy of life and love, or life without love, better than anything else.

Happily, two of Brother Ray's most accomplished disciples have new records out that do just that.

Al Green — make that the Reverend Al Green, since his road-to-Damascus career change to the ministry and gospel music in the late 1970s,prompted by a serious stage accident not long after a girlfriend threw hot grits on him while he was taking a bath, then shot and killed herself — has followed his triumphant return to secular soul, 2003's I Can't Stop, with Everything's OK, another fine release that recreates his patented 70s sound.

Co-produced with Willie Mitchell, who at Memphis's Hi Records in the early 1970s helped craft Green's signature sound, Everything's OK features many of the same musicians who laid down the sinewy horns, sleek strings, and understated, yet insistent rhythms that marked classic sides like "Tired of Being Alone," "Love and Happiness," and "Let's Stay Together."

The remarkable instrument that is Green's voice is also intact after 35 years, still able to caress a melody, then grunt and growl under it, then soar into the pure, strong falsetto that, not unlike those of some of Green's distant musical cousins in bluegrass music, sounds paradoxically more masculine the higher it goes.

The only thing keeping Everything's OK from being as good as the original material it echoes is that not all of the album's twelve songs are as well written or crisply arranged as their predecessors. But some of them are.

Goaded along by a funky wah-wah guitar, the title track is a happy groove that draws from Green's more recent gospel sound, and the simmering "Another Day" is a worthy sequel to 1973's "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)." Green also rescues the beautiful ballad "You Are So Beautiful" from its Joe Cocker-imposed mawkishness with a tender, straightforward reading. And finally, the sunny and melodic "Be My Baby" and "Build Me Up" would certainly belong on any updated greatest hits package.

While Green's resurgence has happened after a conscious return to form, that of unsung elder statesman Solomon Burke, who bills himself as "the King of Rock and Soul" has been one of creative innovation. After starting out as a child preacher and gospel singer in his native Philadelphia, Burke began recording gospel and R&B for a small label in the 1950s. He signed with Atlantic in the 1960s and, though he never found crossover success like label mates Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, enjoyed a reputation as a soul singer's soul singer, his assured, gritty delivery exerting a huge influence among his peers and followers.

Burke continued in this vein until 2002's magisterial Don't Give Up On Me. Including songs contributed by fans such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, and Elvis Costello, the effort showcased the legendary voice that had become deeper, grander and even more expressive than it was on Burke's minor hits four decades previous.

This much-heralded effort brought Burke before countless new fans, an opportunity the expert showman has not squandered. When I saw Burke open for Van Morrison in New York in 2003, Burke, who must weigh well over 300 lbs., performed much of his raucous set seated on a kingly throne at the front of the stage and nearly upstaged his famous patron. Also, Burke's version of Morrison's "Fast Train" was the soundtrack to the memorable closing montage on Season 3 of The Wire, HBO's excellent crime drama. Burke has further built on that momentum with another gem of an album, Make Do With What You Got.

The most apparent strength of Make Do is the choice of songs, which, in spite of their varied sources and themes, all contain a thread of introspection, allowing Burke a chance to explore his own soul, and ours, with that all-encompassing voice.

The disc opens with a full-on rock number, "I Need Your Love in My Life," then slips into an easy, loping cover of Bob Dylan's "What Good Am I?," signaling the ease with which Burke can shift from mood to mood. Burke breathes life into what was a sub-par track for Dylan (who recorded it on the poorly - Aaron Keith Harris (National Review)

"The King Reigns His Throne"

When the King of Rock 'n' Soul recounts the events of the past five years, it's not just the story that holds a listener rapt: It's the storyteller -- a man who loves to joke as much as he loves to bear witness.

``Every day I wake up and thank the Lord for every gift I'm about to receive,'' says Solomon Burke, 65, by phone from his home in Southern California. ``It's been amazing how beautiful things will be when you believe.''

Burke -- who headlines the Santa Cruz Blues Festival in Aptos this weekend -- could never have predicted he would be a name in music again almost 40 years after four of his Top 10 R&B hits, including ``Cry to Me'' and ``Just Out of Reach (of My Two Open Arms),'' crossed over into the Top 40 pop charts.

Burke, whose hits almost single-handedly buoyed Atlantic Records in the early '60s and whose name was often mentioned in the same breath as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, was dubbed the King of Rock 'n' Soul in the mid-'60s by a Baltimore disc jockey. Afterward he wore the epithet proudly, making his entrance onstage in a cape and golden crown.

But little by little, his kingdom began to vanish, as bad business deals, unscrupulous managers and changing tastes in music left Burke to ponder his career options. He never quit performing altogether, but he went to mortuary school (he still operates a chain of funeral homes) and continued to preach in the House of God for All People church, as he had done since he was 7 years old. (Today, he remains actively involved as a bishop in the church.)

Then, Burke says, he got one of the ``greatest blessings'' of his life in December 1999. Burke's New Year's Eve gig had fallen through.

After that, he got a call from a promoter in Italy, whose band had abruptly canceled its New Year's Eve show. ``He said, `I know what you charge, and we'll double it.' I said, well, triple it,' '' recounts Burke, who, despite a number of bad business decisions over the years, is well-known to friends and colleagues as a wheeler-dealer. The contract also included 30 plane tickets for his family (Burke has 21 children and 74 grandchildren) and nine shiny new Mercedes-Benzes for his family's use.

``Then the next month I got a call from the Vatican, saying, `We want you to do something for the pope.' '' He played for Pope John Paul II, and then received a lengthy, by Vatican standards, audience afterward.

``He was such a comedian,'' Burke recalls. ``He said to me, `You're a good Catholic and you don't even know it,' '' referring to Burke's literal interpretation of the Bible's admonition to go forth and multiply. ``Then he said, `Don't forget, I write songs, too.' ''

The following year Burke was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and for the first time in decades he was on the pop-culture radar again. Not long afterward he was playing a festival in Portland when, as he recalls, some young guy ``with curly hair and a T-shirt'' approached him, saying he wanted to talk to him about ``fat possum.''

The corpulent Burke (who weighs nearly 400 pounds) had recently been asked to sponsor the Fat Bears football team. Burke says he assumed another sports team was recruiting him. ``He met me at the airport and tells me he wants to talk to me about fat possum. Then the plane is getting ready to take off, and he knocks on the plane door. He sat down behind me and said, `Now we're going to talk about Fat Possum.' ''

It turned out to be Andy Kaulkin, president of Epitaph Records, home of punk outfits Rancid, Offspring and Bad Religion, and the blues imprint Fat Possum Records. Kaulkin was intent on signing Burke to a one-record deal.

``He said, `If I can get all these artists to do songs for you, will you make an album with me?' '' Burke recalls. ``One week later, we had lunch, and then his check cleared, and the next thing you know, we had an album.''

Kaulkin's idea was for a pared-down, intimate-sounding album to showcase Burke's still-magnificent vocals. Produced by singer-songwriter Joe Henry, the disc discarded the horn section and multiple guitars that were part of Burke's '60s sound.

The album, ``Don't Give Up on Me,'' contained songs that were written specifically for Burke or that had never been recorded by their authors -- artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, who dropped in to the studio to observe Burke record his song ``The Judgment.''

``Don't Give Up on Me'' won Burke a Grammy in 2003 for best contemporary blues album and signaled the return of the King.

Not long after the album was released, Burke got a call from Richard Foos, formerly of Rhino Records and part owner of the new retro-style label Shout Factory. Foos' idea was to team Burke with Don Was, whose prodigious producing credits include Bonnie Raitt's ``Nick of Time'' and the Rolling Stones' ``Voodoo Lounge'' and ``Bridges to Babylon,'' among numerous others.

The result is ``Make Do With What You Got, - Deb Hopewell (special to the San Jose Mercury News)


Like A Fire - Shout!/Sony (2008)
Make Do With What You Got - Shout!/Sony (2005)
Don't Give Up On Me -- Fat Possum Records (2002)



Solomon Burke is truly one of popular music’s larger-than-life figures. His records helped create the exhilarating celebration of pure feeling and African-American vocal expression that came to be known as Soul. His songs have been covered by artists from the Rolling Stones to Tom Petty, from the Blues Brothers to Bruce Springsteen; his contemporaries, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown and Wilson Pickett. “He is Solomon the resonator,” Tom Waits has said. “The golden voice of heart, wisdom, soul, and experience. He’s one of the architects of American music.”

After his 2001 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Burke has enjoyed something of a renaissance as a performer (while also maintaining his parallel lives as an entrepreneur with a chain of mortuaries, a bishop in the House of God for All People, and a father of 21). His glorious 2002 album DON’T GIVE UP ON ME, produced by Joe Henry and dedicated to new songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, and Van Morrison, won a GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

Since then, Burke has made numerous television appearances, performed at the Vatican three times, collaborated in the studio with the likes of Junkie XL, Zucchero, Dave Koz, Eric Clapton, Jools Holland, and Derek Trucks, been featured in the acclaimed documentary Lightning in a Bottle, toured extensively in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Europe including performances with the Rolling Stones, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, and Van Morrison, and in such historic locations as the Ryman Auditorium, the Vienna Opera House, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece and five performances at the Royal Albert Hall since 2003.

In 2006, Burke recorded his first complete country CD, NASHVILLE, which includes the Grammy-nominated performance by Burke and Dolly Parton of her song "Tomorrow is Forever" as well as duets with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless, Gillian Welch, and produced by Buddy Miller.
Most recently, Burke released LIKE A FIRE with songs written for him by Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Jesse Harris and Keb’ Mo’.

Burke’s charisma, dynamics and golden voice have made his performances de rigueur for top class music festivals, private events and concert halls around the world, providing the connection from the birth of soul music to today’s contemporary music.