For the Love of music
Singer Darlene Love has worked with such music-industry luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.
She has appeared in the "Lethal Weapon" films and was a featured artist in Morgan Neville’s documentary about background singers called "Twenty Feet from Stardom" that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Love, who will perform with the Muscle Shoals Band as part of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concerts at Deer Valley on Sunday, Aug. 4, was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The past 50 years been one big journey, Love said during a phone interview on her birthday with The Park Record from her home in New York.
"Once I realized I could sing and make a living singing, that’s all I wanted to do," Love said. "I wanted to do it to my fullest potential as long as I could. That was my bottom line."
The reason was simple.
"In my opinion, singing and music brings soothing relief to people," she said. "Those things lift their spirits and that’s what I’ve always thought about."
During the early part of her career, Love was just happy to sing for people, and didn’t think about the challenges she would face.
"You think you’re going to go and sing and people are going to love you," she laughed. "But soon learned that nobody wanted to pay us, and when they did they didn’t pay enough for us to make living.
"But we had a lot of fun," she said. "We were young and stupid, but did get past that after a while."
The music business was different in 1963 when The Crystals’ "He’s a Rebel" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Although producer Phil Spector credited The Crystals for the singing, the lead vocals were done by Love, she said.
From then, she worked with some of the biggest names in the business.
"It’s was interesting to me, because I started as a background singer, so I got to meet a lot of great people on the way up," she said. "These were people that I never thought I would be able to work with, including Elvis and Tom Jones, Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin."
All of this is documented in Love’s autobiography, "My Name Is Love" that was published last June.
"People over the years who have seen what I’ve done have told me that I need to put all that stuff into a book," Love said. "But the thing is when you write a book like that, you have to talk about yourself. You have to put in a lot of personal things."
Love had to figure out what things she wanted to write about.
"The thing was, I knew if I didn’t put something in, people were going to find out anyway," she said. "I felt it was better for me to tell things than it would have been if others told it."
Fortunately, her sister, Edna Wright, helped her.
"She would remind me of all sorts of things, and we had a bunch of pictures that reminded of when we have five of us brothers and sisters sleeping in the same bed in a one-bedroom apartment," Love said.
While she was working on the book last year, Love was contacted by her friends Lou Adler and filmmaker Richard Donner, who directed the "Lethal Weapon" movies.
"They told me that a friend of theirs was going to call me and that I should treat him nicely," Love remembered. "I said, ‘Well, OK, if you say so.’"
When the phone rang shortly afterwards, Love found herself talking with film producer Gil Friesen.
"We talked about music and the role of background singers and about what I did," Love said.
Those conversations led to Love’s role in "Twenty Feet from Stardom."
"Before I knew it, I was on board with the project and telling them who else they should get in touch with," she said. "All of that stuff ended up being this movie.
"I’m still surprised at how successful it’s become," Love said. "What I understand, it’s one of the top-grossing, independent documentary out there."
Unfortunately Friesen passed away in December, nearly a month before the film’s Sundance premiere.
"It’s too bad that he wasn’t able to reap the benefits from the movie," Love said.
However, Love and the others have worked hard to promote the film.
"I have never been to so many film festivals in my life," Love giggled. "I had no idea there were so many."
During this past Sundance Film Festival, Love saw another music documentary, Greg "Freddy" Camalier’s "Muscle Shoals," which the Sundance Institute screened free in partnership with the Park City Kimball Arts Festival at the Town Lift Plaza on Aug. 2.
The film is about the Muscle Shoals Fame Studios that produced hits by the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and more.
"We found about the movie and we got to see it," Love said.
One thing led to another and the managers came up with the idea of Love working with the 21-piece Muscle Shoals Band.
"It’s going to be exciting to come to Park City," Love said. "We’re going to be able to spend a few days with them before the show, so we’ll get to know them better. It’s going to be a lot of fun, because working with the Muscle Shoals Band is something that I’ve always wanted to do.
"It’s funny, because I didn’t really think about working with them live," she said. "I just wanted to work with them in the recording studio. So this is special for me."
Muscle Shoals Live featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love will perform Sunday, Aug. 4, at the Snow Park Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort. The show, which is part of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets prices start at $35. For more information, call (435) 655-3114 or visit http://www.ecclescenter.org.
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