A gritty 1972 funk record, Lee Fields’ “We Fought for Survival” chronicles a hardscrabble North Carolina upbringing that included picking cotton with his family to keep food on the table. Now 67, the soul survivor began a long and winding career after cutting a cover of James Brown’s “Bewildered” as a teenager in 1969. By the mid-Nineties, the singer helped spur the Brooklyn soul revival that birthed Daptone Records and launched the late Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley to third-act stardom.
“Charles wound up being one of my best friends and Sharon was like a little sister to me,” Fields gushes. “Man, they were so genuine and so real. Just talking
about them is like being transported to a place with pure fresh air around me. I’m glad I had them in my life for the time that I did.”
Perfectly paired with the vintage sounds of the Expressions, the frontman brings a lifetime of experience to the stage, including a short stint fronting Kool & the Gang right before the band’s breakout.
“I’ve been in it with everybody from Solomon Burke to Wilson Pickett,” he affirms. “I met the game changers. I studied them, watched their actions, their manners, the way they did things. The day I met James Brown was the day I realized I had to be me. The world don’t need two Jameses.
“It was hard to be myself because of the uncanny resemblance that I have to James Brown, but that was the beginning of finding myself. And I found it because I’m surviving, working all the time. That’s a good thing.
“I’m running out of time, so I’m trying to touch as many people as I can and bring as much joy as I can to people.” – Thomas Fawcett
Sat., June 23, 6pm