It’s not just about soul-selling. There are lots of good reasons why the blues gets associated with crossroads. Blues intersects with nearly every form of American popular music: jazz, gospel, country, rock, even mainstream pop. If you don’t know the blues, buddy, you’re missing the bedrock.
And standing at that crossroads — with a guitar slung around his neck and great big smile on his face — is the one and only Albert Cummings, master of sound and extraordinary soloist. Cummings knows country and gospel, and he certainly rocks. But every note he plays is rooted in the blues. With every song, he reminds us, all over again, of the essentials.
Take “Need Somebody,” his latest barnstormer. It’s as lean and tough as any modern rock song you might name, and its chorus is as catchy, immediate and irresistible as the best of modern pop. In compositional architecture and its chase of the ecstatic, it makes Cummings’ understanding of gospel evident. When the big man steps to the microphone, the result is pure soul. But the song follows the sacred rules of the electric blues, and it generates the explosive heat that the blues always does when it’s played with dedication and conviction. And Albert Cummings doesn’t know any other way.
When you’re that dedicated, and that accomplished, even the legends notice. Cummings has accompanied titanic figures in the history of American popular music: Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, B.B. King. They’re enthusiastic about Cummings for the same reason that countless blues fans have fallen in love with his music. His guitar playing is alternately stinging and lyrical, fiery, moody, mesmerizing. Most importantly of all, he’s economical: everything he plays has a purpose, and every precious lick is put in the service of the song.
Albert Cummings has also distinguished himself as a bandleader. He’s always led ferocious combos, and he’s inspired his accompanists with his energy, his commitment, and his passion. All of that is on display in the “Need Somebody” clip — a performance video suffused with joy. Though he’s singing the blues, his delight is evident, and it’s infectious as well: both his bassist and his drummer share his enthusiasm. They’re just as videogenic as he is, and they tear into the song with the passion of true believers. Warning: anybody who watches this clip is virtually guaranteed to develop an unquenchable desire to see Albert Cummings live.
Tell us about your musical journey, when did you start writing lyrics and composing pieces?
I started writing songs when I was about 19 while in college. I can still remember what it was like to sit and figure out how to put my thoughts together and then combine them with music. Some of the greatest songs of all times sound so simple. What is anything but simple is to come up with a simple song! It has something that I strive to get better at every day. It is a very beautiful experience to write about your own thoughts, feelings and experiences. It is extra rewarding when you find that other people relate to them. That’s when it becomes exciting.
What drew you into the blues genre? Who are some of your inspirations?
I’ve always said the blues found me I didn’t find the blues. Blues music was the first music I felt. My whole take on listening to or playing music is that I want to feel it. Blues triggered my emotions which lit the path for where I wanted to go. I love listening to any type of music as long as it touches my emotions no matter what they may be.
My influences are many but it all started with Stevie Ray Vaughan who was able to bring his music to the main stream where I was enabled to hear it. Once I learned about Stevie I started to explore who his influences were. BB King was in the top of Stevie’s influences and I became overwhelmed with respect for BB King. He is my biggest inspiration on the stage as well as off the stage.
What aspects of your career are you most proud of? What do you hope to achieve?
I’m most proud of the fact that every day more and more people become aware of me and my music. It’s nice to know that people from all over the world are enjoying my music. That is a huge inspiration and a huge boost to let me know that I am on the right path. I have many goals… I want a Grammy for sure! I want to meet Eric Clapton, I want to see every country in the world! I could go on forever. My main goal is to be better tomorrow than I am today. The rest will follow!
What is the inspiration behind “Need Somebody”? What was the songwriting experience like?
Need Somebody is a fun song. My songs come from all different places. This song was simply about the fact that we all need somebody to love! Writing this song came from combining experiences with a few different people that I knew and thinking about the common denominator with all of them.
What major projects can fans anticipate from you?
My main goal is to tour this new record. I am so proud of this record and I can’t wait to bring it to the world. Now that the album is released I can start writing more songs. I will continue to raise my bar each and every day and to bring my audience something that will be unique, exciting and something you can’t buy in a store! That is my promise.