I first heard Curtis Harding in the summer of 2014. His album first solo album, Soul Power, had found its way into my listening rotation. I enjoyed the mix of soul and R&B present on the album.
In fall of 2017, Harding released his second solo album, Face Your Fear. When I first heard it, I was blown away. His combination of classic soul, Motown, and some psychedelic elements worked, and worked well. I listened to the album from start to finish countless times. It is one of my favorite albums in recent years.
When I heard Harding was coming to Pittsburgh, I immediately got tickets for his show on Easter night in 2018. The crowd at the Rex Theater was on the smaller side, which only made me feel bad for all the people missing out on such a talented artist. Curtis took the stage and announced that he had become ill with laryngitis, and his manager had wanted to cancel the show. “I said, ‘fuck that,'” he announced to applause. He said some songs would sound a little different and he’d have to cut some entirely, but the crowd was appreciative he was going to perform, period.
Even with laryngitis, he did not disappoint.
Occasionally, he would turn his face away from the microphone and cough. While he had to sing songs a little differently than they were performed on the album, he still managed to sound great. What he lacked in vocal range that evening, he made up for with the sheer energy of his performance as he alternated playing electric and acoustic guitars and picked up a tambourine on quite a few tunes. His backing band was incredible, too.
Curtis Harding is a true talent and I doubt this will be the last time he’ll be featured in one of my Song of the Day posts. Today’s selection is the song that marks the midpoint of Face Your Fear, “Need Your Love.” I never listen to this song just once when it comes on; I listen to it at least three or four times in a row. It’s so infectious and upbeat, I can’t help but put it on repeat. Over the course of writing this post, I’ve listened to it five times.
The video features shots of Curtis singing intermittently between scenes of real people (meaning, not models or actors) dancing to the song–people of every age, shape, size, color, and sexual orientation just enjoying the music (the kid dancing at 2:15 of the video is particularly awesome). It’s impossible to watch the video and not find yourself smiling; it’s so refreshing to watch people being happy and enjoying life.
(All photos in this post by Amanda Filipcic-Godsey)