Vouching for Nashville's Soul

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 12, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Thanks for catching me up on Bobby Whitlock and telling his story [“Keep on Growing,” Music, Dec. 1]. As co-writer/performer with Clapton on the landmark “Layla,” his place in rock history is assured. I'm sorry that his stay in Nashville didn't work out, but his characterization of the city promulgates a caricature. He says he is too soulful for the place (his shows didn't draw?) but as black folks up there are 26% of the population, how is this? Are they not soulful enough for him? In my residence there in the Seventies, I experienced an R&B sensation unlike any Texas has produced. He fronted the house band at the King of the Road hotel rooftop club for several years and packed the house several nights a week. First reports were that there was a white Ray Charles tearin' the place up, named Ronnie Milsap. Like Ray, he sometimes sang country/crossover songs and is also blind. Nashville is highly tuned to blues, R&B, and rock and has produced well-known artists in these genres, as have other Southern cities. It's home base for Sheryl Crow, Walter Egan, Steve Winwood, Béla Fleck, Victor Wooten, Richard Thompson, and many other renowned eclectic performers.
    That said, I would like to wish Mr. Whitlock well in his new locale.
Tom Groover
Houston
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