There are musicians and then there are legends! Philip Bailey is a legend who has made music throughout the years with the iconic Earth, Wind, and Fire. Growing up as a kid, I played the saxophone and my grandfather would always turn on the television screen with old VHS tapes of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s legendary performances. The jazzy feel, the classic vocal prowess, and the entertainment factor inspired me to want to cover music for the rest of my life. This by far, was not only a landmark interview for myself but one I needed to do. Philip Bailey’s infectious positive attitude made my life feel better instantly!
My first words to him, being a 25-year-old was “Sir, you’re a legend! Throughout the years, your work has inspired multiple people and brands! How have you kept relevance all these years?” He responded humbly, “It has always been the main direction and pursuit to bring out the best you can make. Focus on quality and never think on arrival. You cut yourself off short if you’re just in it for money and fame. If you don’t have love for performance, music, and people, then you will never last.”
Those words have stuck with me ever since. A feeling of warmth and wisdom occurred from me hearing those words. The tone of humility he spoke with throughout the interview made me shed a couple of tears of joy. Never had I met a man of so much love and passion. To best describe Mr. Bailey, I would have to say he is a man who embodies love, life, kindness, knowledge, and humbleness. I had to ask him about this particular question: “What does true love for music mean? For some reason, I feel that you embody it.”
“Music was for me, my mom told me music was for me. The lord and other people praised me so it keeps my flame for me! Every day makes me feel like it’s a holiday. Everybody has that place when they are in their purpose. Every day I sing or I am around music; I feel so happy! My love for music will never go away,” Bailey told me with great passion. We both started laughing a bit and acknowledged each other’s love for music. He remarked about my youth and told me this; “A strong reason for my love of music today also relates to the youth’s social issues, like yours, that you go through today as we went through ours in our youth.”
As our conversation continued, we started to reminisce about some of the most classic moments of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Surprisingly, he said his fondest moment was recently discovering how to use YouTube and looking back to view some of the classic Earth, Wind, and Fire performances. He has been working so hard and doing what he loved for so long that only recently he has been reminiscing about his overall career. The journey he has been through with his Earth, Wind, and Fire bandmates has been etched into his soul and he holds them deeply.
The Journey Of Joy And Serving Humanity
His remarks on this mission of Earth, Wind, and Fire hit my soul with a sense of amazement and joy. “We kept on making music because we want to serve humanity. The joy and love our music gave millions kept us going through even the worst of times,” Bailey states as he pauses with a sigh of relief. Then added these powerful words. “Without the power the youth like yourself gave us or myself, I would have never made it to where I am.” I had to catch myself from being speechless because here I am interviewing a music icon and he’s giving my generation all of the credit for his success.
The level of modesty and love Philip exuded throughout our conversation was so inspiring; it made me want to be a better man for my community and for myself. As the conversation went on, he raved about being able to perform at the Kennedy center real soon as he mentions, “It’s among the highest honors he has got in his career because only legendary musicians can perform there.” The opportunity to perform there actually inspired him to go through the curation of a new project he has coming out very soon titled “Love Will Find A Way,” which ironically can also be the perfect title for a movie or novel about Philip Bailey’s life. The logic and motivation behind it runs so deeper than himself though.
A Project Of Love
He wanted to create a project which made other people feel good and the love he has felt his entire life as he spoke with great joy: “We choose music for the project that was curated to make people feel love in their lives. Choices to include music from late music legends such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield helps bring the project to life and I’m honored to have their iconic contributions on the project.” The premise of the project also included connecting social issues of his generation in the ’60s to the ones that my generation and people younger are going through today! In his kind words, “the greatest form of love and unity between generations is finding solitude within our issues together and resolving them together.” The mantra and title of the project, “Love Will Always Find A Way,” is to reference that love is ultimately the answer, according to Bailey for a majority of social issues today. He is proud of the love the project exudes and the time he took for it to come to life! He considers it a crown jewel of his musical library.
Love, not only in the sense of intimacy between two partners but love for each other as people of the world. The same love that is in his project is in his organization, Music Is Unity, founded in 2009, which helps foster youth who are aging out of the system for benefits. He strongly feels that they’re neglected and works tirelessly to raise money to help them succeed in life! He quotes, like his project title, “that love will find a way for the youth to find a way to succeed in life and we will continue to work to build the youth through Music Is Unity.” A tear shed down my eye hearing such a wonderful premise and his modesty telling me all of the details embodies the love he brings to the world.
To conclude our interview, I had to ask him about the curation of the Earth, Wind, and Fire classic and one of my favorite songs “Let’s Groove Tonight.” As the proud words of my past grandfather, he told me with the same joyous manner “Man! What do you know about that,” he said with laughter, “that’s an all-time classic we made to raise the spirits of people throughout the world. Much credit to Maurice White, Wanda Vaughn, and Wayne Vaughn for writing such a timeless tune! I’m glad youth like yourself can enjoy it with me.” That statement right there summarizes the man Philip Bailey is. He is all about connecting the generation through love because a synonym for love is Philip Bailey.
Featured Image Photo credit: Jabari Jacobs