During and prior to the 1970s, before the onset of technology that could fill in the essentials formerly supplied by a well-rehearsed band, or tweak, fine-tune and accentuate even the most mediocre of voices until the sound that emerged seemed to be in perfect pitch, musicians hoping for stardom knew they’d need a full arsenal of skills if they wanted to do more than simply dream.
And that’s exactly what the band L.T.D. (Love, Togetherness and Devotion) delivered, eventually garnering platinum and gold for songs that included “Holding On (When Love is Gone),” “Back in Love Again,” and their first hit in 1976, “Love Ballad.”
In fact, with that breakthrough single, we would hear for the first time, the unforgettable voice of the band’s talented drummer who had been moved to lead vocals – Jeffrey Osborne. Now 70 years old, and with a successful career as a solo artist under his belt following a 10-year stint with L.T.D., Osborne has released his first R&B CD in over a decade, “Worth it All” — a 12-song collection of material all written, produced and sung by “Mr. Woo, Woo, Woo” himself.
Osborne talked with us about his career, his passion for music, his life in Providence, Rhode Island, and his plans for the future.
“I enjoyed those days with L.T.D. – 10 great years and some amazing songs,” he said.
“Actually, our first hit, ‘Love Ballad,’ had been passed over by Earth, Wind and Fire. The first time I heard that song on the radio, all of the gigs, the hours on the road, sometimes barely having enough to eat, backing up other singers, it was all worth it. Hearing ourselves on the radio – that was one of those shining moments I will never forget.”
“The fact that I got to meet the Temptations, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin – all of us living our dreams – that’s what being a member of L.T.D. and then making it as a solo artist allowed me to enjoy and savor.”
“I remember once, back in 1978, I was attending a Miles Davis concert and got the chance to go backstage to meet him. He knew who I was. He loved our music. He loved my voice. That blew my mind. I worked really hard to develop a sound that was distinctly my own. I always wanted people to hear me and instantly recognize that they were listening to Jeffrey Osborne – the way you can hear Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass or Peabo Bryson.”
“With today’s music, you don’t get that a lot anymore, especially with all of the new technology and apps. I never wanted to mimic someone else or try to cash in on their sound. In my formative days, I even turned off the radio for over a year and isolated myself so that I could master my own abilities and create my own, unique sound.”
Osborne’s new CD follows a critically-acclaimed jazz release in 2013, “A Time for Love.” He says his new release, on the Artistry/Mack Avenue Records label, showcases music he’s been working on for several years, the majority of which focus on relationships and romance – something he knows about quite well after being happily married for over 30 years.
“I wanted to get back to my R&B roots and do some music for the fans who have supported from the very beginning, the ‘grown folks,'” he said. “My son worked with me on it too so it’s truly a labor of love. And the crazy thing is, my son never showed any interest in music until college. Then one day I found out he had put the basketball down long enough to start rapping with some of his classmates. He’s developed into an incredible sound engineer.”
“As for the new CD, I had a great time working on it. One song in particular, ‘Worth It All,’ is really special to me because of its simplicity. It’s just me and the piano.”
Osborne, upon the prompting of his family, has transitioned to a lifestyle choice to become a vegan and says he’s never felt better or more energetic. He also gives back to his community, with a foundation and a celebrity classic and golf tournament, raising over $1 million dollars for families who need a safe place to live and for youth interested in the arts and music.
“You could say I have a healthy glow these days. I can go and go and go. And since I’ve changed my died and been more careful about what I take into my body, I have really seen and felt the benefits. It’s something our people should really consider, especially since obesity is such a problem in the Black community.”
“I back on the road again too but not touring like I did back in the day. Now, I go out for a couple of days singing the old songs as well as the songs from the new CD. But I’m back home for the weekends. I don’t want to be away from my family for too long a stretch. And as the youngest of 12 children, you could say we have a pretty large crew. I’ve had an amazing, blessed life. And I celebrate each day,” he said.
Jeffrey Osborne will perform at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Saturday, Sept. 1. And you can believe, The Washington Informer will be in the house.
For a complete list of tour dates, to download the “Worth It All” album or to buy Jeffrey Osborne merchandise, go to www.JeffreyOsborne.com.