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Paul Rodgers Takes ‘The Royal Sessions’ Front and Center on PBS

Photo by Katherine Tyler
Photo by Katherine Tyler

British rock singer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company, The Firm) performed the Memphis music that has been a life-long inspiration to him at a special concert filmed in New York last summer. That event was filmed for the PBS Front and Center series which begins airing next month.

Reflective of The Royal Sessions, recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis and his first studio album in 13 years, the concert is, like the album, a celebration of the southern soul sound of Stax and Hi Records. It includes songs associated with Sam & Dave, Albert King, Ann Peebles, Otis Redding and other great practitioners of “The Memphis Sound.” Rodgers commented, “Our Front and Center special was special indeed. It was a dazzling setting for all The Royal Sessions musicians from Memphis and me to dig into the tracks from the album. Visually and aurally the show came off beyond our expectation. Everyone worked together to capture the same magic that we caught and recorded on the album. Absolutely a night in my life to remember and I’m thrilled that we can now share it with the so many.”

Musicians who worked with Rodgers on both the album the the Front and Center special include Reverend Charles Hodges Sr. (Hammond B3), Leroy Hodges Jr. (bass), Archie “Hubby” Turner (Wurlitzer), Michael Toles (guitar), Steve Potts (drums). Additionally, Rodgers was joined by The Royal Singers, three soulful, gospel-rooted vocalists, including Shontelle Norman, Sharisse Norman and Stefanie Bolton, and The Memphis Horns, a multigenerational mix of Memphis’ best blowers, including Marc Franklin (trumpet), James L. Spake (baritone sax), Gary Topper (tenor sax), and Lannie “The Party” McMillan Jr. (tenor sax). Many of these same players will be featured at a benefit concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall this coming Monday, November 3. All proceeds from that concert will be donated to the Willows Animal Sanctuary & Animal Assisted Therapy Unit in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Rodgers and The Royal Sessions have been accepted for consideration in numerous GRAMMY categories including: Rock Performance (“Born Under a Bad Sign”), Record of the Year (“I Can’t Stand the Rain”), Traditional R&B (“I Can’t Stand the Rain” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”), American Roots Performance (“I Thank You”), Album of the Year (The Royal Sessions), Americana Album (The Royal Sessions), Package (The Royal Sessions), Album Notes (The Royal Sessions/Bob Mehr), Engineer/Album of the Year (William Whittman for The Royal Sessions) and Producer of the Year (Perry Margouleff for The Royal Sessions).

Boston, MA- WGBH/WGBX; Sunday, December 7th at 11PM
Chicago, IL- WTTW; Sunday, December 14th at 11PM
Cleveland, OH- WVIZ; Sunday, November 16th at 1AM
Indianapolis, IN- WFYI; Saturday, November 22nd at 4PM
Kansas City, MO- KCPT; Thursday, November 20th at 10PM
Los Angeles, CA- PBS SoCal; Sunday, November 16th at 8PM
Los Angeles, CA- KLCS; Friday, November 14th at 10PM
Louisiana (statewide)- LA Public Broadcasting; Sunday, November 16th at 11PM
Minneapolis, MN- TPT; Sunday, November 16th at 11PM
Nashville, TN- WNPT/NPT2; Tuesday, December 30th at 7PM
Nashville, TN- WCTE; Saturday, January 24th at 8PM
New York, NY- Station THIRTEEN; Sunday, November 16th at 1AM
New York, NY- WLIW; Saturday, November 15th at 11:10PM
Orlando, FL- WEFS; Thursday, November 20th at 11PM
Philadelphia, PA- WHYY Y2 Channel; Wednesday, November 19th at 4PM
San Antonio, TX- KLRN; Thursday, November 13th at 6PM
Washington DC- WETA; Sunday, November 16th at 12AM, 3AM, 6AM, 9AM
Washington DC- WHUT; Sunday, December 14th at 10PM

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