Curtis Harding
A man playing guitar
Harding performing in 2018
Background information
Born (1979-06-11) June 11, 1979 (age 43)
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
GenresSoul
Occupation(s)
  • Singer-songwriter
  • actor
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • drums
  • guitar
  • tambourine
Years active2002–present
Labels
Websitewww.curtisharding.com

Curtis Harding (born June 11, 1979) is an American singer and songwriter. Primarily a soul artist, his „slop ’n‘ soul“ style carries the influence of genres including blues, gospel, psychedelia, R&B, and rock. His first album, Soul Power (2014), was followed by Face Your Fear in 2017, with production from Danger Mouse and Sam Cohen.

Harding was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and his family settled in Atlanta when he was a teenager. He was exposed to music at an early age as his family toured with his mother, who was a gospel singer. In the 2000s, Harding backed CeeLo Green, and he formed the R&B/garage rock band Night Sun in Atlanta with Black Lips members in 2009.

Early life

Harding was born on June 11, 1979,[1] in Saginaw, Michigan.[2] His father is a mechanic, and his mother, Dorothy,[2] is a gospel singer.[3][4] He and his five siblings[4] were raised as Mennonites.[5] They moved to Alabama when he was three, then to Arizona, California, Texas, and other parts of the United States.[3] His family had no permanent residence until they settled in Atlanta, Georgia, when he was 14.[3][4]

His mother toured in a van, stopping to sing at churches and work at homeless shelters.[3][4] Though he originally wanted to play professional sports,[4] Harding grew up around his mother’s music, occasionally joining her on stage as a backing singer until age 15.[6][7] His family would stay – sometimes for months – at communities with churches of any denomination.[7] Harding’s sister, an amateur rapper, introduced him to secular music.[8]

Harding told The Austin Chronicle that growing up around older people – his father is 27 years older than his mother – gave him an early sense of maturity: „My goal when I was a kid was to be an old man. That’s what I was around. I wanted to be that old guy sitting on the porch.“[9]

Career

2000s collaborations

In Atlanta in the early 2000s, Harding was part of the hip-hop group Proseed.[4] He met singer CeeLo Green while doing promotion for LaFace Records,[3] and he rapped on some songs off Green’s 2002 album Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections along with several Proseed members. He toured with Green as a backing singer on the 2002 Smokin‘ Grooves Tour alongside Outkast, Cypress Hill, Lauryn Hill, and The Roots.[2] He also sang on Green’s 2010 album The Lady Killer,[6] including co-writing the bonus track „Grand Canyon“.[10]

He moved to Toronto in 2008 to reinvigorate his musical creativity.[10] While he was in Canada, he bought a guitar and began writing songs without commercial aspirations.[7] He returned to Atlanta in 2009 and formed the band Night Sun, which mixes rhythm and blues and garage rock, with guitarist Cole Alexander of Black Lips, performing several shows in East Atlanta and Little Five Points.[10] The band’s lineup would grow to consist of Harding (vocals, guitar), Alexander (vocals, bass), drummer Joe Bradley of Black Lips, and Night Beats guitarist Danny Lee Blackwell.[10] In 2013, the seasoned underground rock group recorded the single „No Pressure“/„On My Way“ for the indie label Burger Records.[6][10] Harding co-wrote „I Don’t Wanna Go Home“ with Jared Swilley originally for the Black Lips‘ 2014 album Underneath the Rainbow.[10]

Wide shot of a four-piece band performing on stage. Left to right: drums; Harding, guitar and microphone; bass; and guitar
Harding performing in February 2016

2014–present: Solo studio albums

Harding spent two weeks at Living Room Studios in Atlanta recording twenty songs in 2014, twelve of which were included on his debut album,[11] titled Soul Power and released by Burger Records on May 6, 2014.[2] The album’s reception was generally favorable,[12] with critics noting its fusion of many musical genres.[13] „Keep on Shining“ was one of the singles the album produced; he performed the song live on the French talk show C à vous in February 2015.[14]

While at The Growlers‘ annual Beach Goth festival, Harding met fashion photographer Hedi Slimane. Harding was recruited as the face of Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris Music Project for 2015.[15] For the project (in addition to portraits) Slimane produced a video featuring Harding and the song „Next Time“ from Soul Power.[16][17] He also photographed Harding for the album’s cover.[18]

His second album, Face Your Fear, was released by Anti- on October 27, 2017.[2] He recorded the album at Danger Mouse’s 30th Century Studio in New York City.[2] Face Your Fear spent one week on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart at number 21.[19] NPR Music named the album one of the best ten R&B albums of 2017.[20] Music critic Ken Tucker said that Harding’s earnestness in the album, tone and emphasis changes, and direct singing suggest both comfort in and knowledge of classic R&B.[21]

Its opening track, „Wednesday Morning Atonement“, was produced by Danger Mouse and Sam Cohen.[2] Recorded on a Wednesday morning, the song is about a father missing his children, a metaphor for Harding’s time neglecting to record another album.[3] GQ’s Shakeil Greeley described the album’s title track („Face Your Fear“) as „the rare song that could soundtrack a wedding or a funeral, at once celebratory, sad, groovy, and of course, very soulful.“[15] Greeley wrote that the mood of the album ranges from classic soul in „On and On“ and „Need Your Love“ to sadness in „Welcome to My World“, with a cinematic psychedelic feel to other songs.[15] Harding performed „Need Your Love“ as a guest musician with Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in January 2018.[22]

In advance of Harding’s support of Lenny Kravitz on tour throughout 2018, Harding released the single „It’s Not Over“ on June 5.[23] Clash’s Robin Murray wrote that the song was „a driven return, a solid return“.[24] In 2019, Harding headlined the finale of Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina.[25][26]

Musical style

Harding singing on stage with a tambourine at his thigh
Harding at Adler Theater in 2016

Harding describes his genre as „slop ’n‘ soul“, joining soul music with blues, gospel, psychedelia, R&B, and rock.[27] „Slop“ symbolizes Southern culture („that’s what you give to pigs“), and soul represents the music of his youth.[28] „Soul is an experience,“ Harding told GQ magazine in 2017. „It can be in the way you dress, the way you talk, the way you sit down in a chair. It’s a feeling that you can translate to someone with whatever you’re doing.“[15]

His musical style has elements that are not usually found in soul, like synthesizers and a psychedelic feel.[15] Both of his studio albums include soft strings under his „cooing vocals“; on other songs, his „strong, passionate vocal style“[6] moves into the falsetto range with spirited brass blazing.[29] The Orlando Weekly writes:

Harding’s take on soul can be more than a little garage-minded. Live, however, his band’s grooves were lusciously classic, though broadened by some rock kick and psych expansion. Like a great old soul record, the crack quintet were radiant from the jump. With deep guitars, beefy rhythm section and plush keys and sax, this is a unit built for sonorousness. But making it all smolder is Harding’s rich voice, an athletic balance of young vigor and sweet wear. The sum total is a thing of velvet and muscle.[30]

In addition to his mother, Harding has said that his influences include Mahalia Jackson, MC Lyte, Bob Dylan, Albert King, the Everly Brothers, and Ronnie Dyson.[8][31] In 2015, Michael Hann of The Guardian cited Harding and Leon Bridges as „the new stars of classic soul“ with other modern recording artists having brought the genre back into mainstream culture. Harding believes that soul’s popularity is simply cyclical, and that its resurgence is „just the way people are.“[7]

Discography

Studio albums

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
US
Heat.

[32]
BEL
(FL)

[33]
BEL
(WA)

[34]
FRA
[35]
NL
[36]
SWI
[37]
Soul Power1568243
Face Your Fear
  • Released: October 27, 2017
  • Label: Anti-
  • Formats: LP, CD, digital download
21111162794378
If Words Were Flowers
  • Released: November 5, 2021[38]
  • Label: Anti-
  • Formats: LP, digital download
461062840
„—“ denotes albums that were released but did not chart.

Singles

List of singles as lead artist, showing year released and album name
TitleYearAlbum
„Keep on Shining“[39]
„Castaway“
2014Soul Power
„Next Time“[40]
„On and On“[41]2017Face Your Fear
„Wednesday Morning Atonement“[42]
„Need Your Love“[43]
„Go As You Are“[44]
It’s Not Over[24]2018Non-album single
„Hopeful“2021If Words were Flowers
„I Won’t Let You Down“
„Our Love“2021Arcane League of Legends (soundtrack)[45]

Music videos

List of music videos, showing year released and director
TitleYearDirector
„Next Time“2014Hedi Slimane[16]
„Keep On Shining“Jonny Look[46]
„The Drive“2016Taylor Bonin[47]
„Wednesday Morning Atonement“2017Sky Shields[48]
„Need Your Love“Elise Tyler[49]

Guest appearances

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
TitleYearAlbum
„I Can’t Love You“[50]
(We Invented Cool featuring Curtis Harding)
2012We Invented Cool
„Too Late“[51]
(Guantanamo Baywatch featuring Curtis Harding)
2015Darling... It’s Too Late
„Me, You, And the Planet Too“[52]
(The Difference Machine featuring Curtis Harding)
2016The 4th Side of the Eternal Triangle
„Me, You, And the Planet Too“ [Chris Hunt Remix] [53]
(The Difference Machine featuring Curtis Harding)
2017Triangle Schemes

Acting

Harding appears in the third season of Sundance TV drama Hap and Leonard, playing infamous blues musician L.C. Soothe.[54] The season was filmed in late September 2017 in Cedartown, Georgia, and began airing March 7, 2018.[55]

Television
YearTitleRoleRef.
2018Hap and LeonardL.C. Soothe[54]

References

  1. ^ „Curtis Harding“. BBC Music. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kaufman, Gil (August 31, 2017). „Curtis Harding Talks Finally Teaming With Danger Mouse on Soulful Single ‚Wednesday Morning Atonement‘ . Billboard. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dye, David (December 20, 2017). „Curtis Harding On World Café“. World Café. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hann, Michael (November 24, 2017). „Curtis Harding: sweet soul to savour“. Financial Times. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (November 20, 2017). „Curtis Harding: Soul has a sadness, you need experience to sing it“. The Times. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Deming, Mark. „Curtis Harding“. AllMusic. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Hann, Michael (June 18, 2015). „Leon Bridges and Curtis Harding: the new stars of classic soul“. The Guardian. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  8. ^ a b „Curtis Harding Bio (2017)“. Anti-. September 21, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  9. ^ Spearnman, Kahron (October 5, 2018). „ACL Fest Interview: Curtis Harding“. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Radford, Chad (January 2, 2014). „20 People to Watch - Curtis Harding: The independent musician“. Creative Loafing. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  11. ^ Jamin, Jen (April 29, 2014). „Q&A: Curtis Harding Talks Gospel-Fueled Solo Debut ‚Soul Power‘ . Spin. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  12. ^ „Soul Power by Curtis Harding“. Metacritic. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  13. ^ Deming, Mark. „Curtis Harding: Soul Power“. AllMusic. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  14. ^ „Replay: Curtis Harding „Keep on Shining“ - C à vous - 18/02/2015“. TV-programme.com. February 19, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e Greeley, Shakeil (October 28, 2017). „Curtis Harding’s Psychedelic Soul“. GQ. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Martins, Chris (January 14, 2014). „Curtis Harding Shreds for Saint Laurent in NSFW ‚Next Time‘ Video“. Spin. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  17. ^ Farmer, Brian (January 14, 2014). „Saint Laurent Paris Music Project starring Curtis Harding“. Highsnobiety. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Jonze, Tim (January 15, 2015). „Curtis Harding: Soul Power review – well-crafted but over-reverential“. The Guardian. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  19. ^ „Face Your Fear“. Billboard. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  20. ^ Powers, Ann (18 December 2017). „The 10 Best R&B Albums Of 2017“. NPR. NPR Music. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Tucker, Ken (December 26, 2017). „Singer-Songwriter Curtis Harding Drops His Guard On ‚Face Your Fear‘ . Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  22. ^ „Curtis Harding Performs ‚Need Your Love‘ With Jon Batiste & Stay Human“. CBS. January 31, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  23. ^ Bosley, Kirsty (June 1, 2018). „Who is supporting Lenny Kravitz on his 2018 tour?“. Birmingham Mail. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Murray, Robin (June 5, 2018). „Listen: Curtis Harding - ‚It’s Not Over‘ . Clash. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  25. ^ Lawrence, Stratton (June 5, 2019). „Ahead of Spoleto finale, Curtis Harding keeps it chill (but knows how to party)“. Charleston City Paper. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  26. ^ Zawisza, Mike (June 8, 2019). „Spoleto Festival finale at new North Charleston venue features soul artist Curtis Harding“. The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  27. ^ On genre:
  28. ^ Grow, Kory (May 14, 2014). „10 New Artists You Need to Know: May 2014“. Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  29. ^ DeLuca, Dan (February 1, 2018). „New music: Reviews of this week’s CD releases“. Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  30. ^ Le-Huu, Bao (April 12, 2018). „Curtis Harding’s performance is a look at the future of classic soul“. Orlando Weekly. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  31. ^ Peters, Micah (October 31, 2017). „Curtis Harding Faces His Fears With Soul“. The Ringer. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  32. ^ „Curtis Harding – Chart History“. Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  33. ^ „Discography Curtis Harding“. ultratop.be (in Dutch). ULTRATOP & Hung Medien. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  34. ^ „Discography Curtis Harding“. ultratop.be (in French). ULTRATOP & Hung Medien. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  35. ^ „Discographie Curtis Harding“. lescharts.com (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  36. ^ „Discografie Curtis Harding“. dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  37. ^ „Discographie Curtis Harding“. hitparade.ch (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  38. ^ „If Words Were Flowers - Curtis Harding“. Bandcamp. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  39. ^ Keep on Shining (Media notes). Curtis Harding. Burger Records. 2013. BRGR513.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  40. ^ Next Time (Media notes). Curtis Harding. Anti-. 2014. 7396-9a.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  41. ^ On and On (Media notes). Curtis Harding. Anti- and Epitaph Records. June 27, 2017. 045778753789.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  42. ^ Wednesday Morning Atonement (Media notes). Curtis Harding. Anti- and Epitaph Records. August 29, 2017. 045778753741.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  43. ^ Need Your Love (Media notes). Curtis Harding. Anti- and Epitaph Records. September 19, 2017. 045778753758.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  44. ^ Go As You Are (Media notes). Curtis Harding. Anti- and Epitaph Records. October 3, 2017. 045778758104.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  45. ^ „Arcane League of Legends (Soundtrack from the Animated Series)“. Amazon Music. November 20, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  46. ^ Burger Records (April 14, 2014). „Curtis Harding - „Keep On Shining“ (Official Music Video)“. YouTube. Retrieved March 17, 2018.Jenny, Blog Contributor (May 9, 2014). „Listen Up! 5 Questions for Curtis Harding“. Nordstrom. Retrieved March 17, 2018. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  47. ^ Burger Records (April 3, 2016). „Curtis Harding - The Drive (Official Video)“. YouTube. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  48. ^ Anti- (August 29, 2017). „Curtis Harding - „Wednesday Morning Atonement“. YouTube. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  49. ^ Anti- (October 26, 2017). „Curtis Harding - „Need Your Love“ (Official Video)“. YouTube. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  50. ^ We Invented Cool (Media notes). We Invented Cool. February 27, 2012.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  51. ^ Prado, Ryan J. (May 12, 2015). „Guantanamo Baywatch: Darling...It’s Too Late Review“. Paste. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  52. ^ The 4th Side of the Eternal Triangle (Media notes). The Difference Machine. Psych Army Intergalactic. June 24, 2016.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  53. ^ Triangle Schemes (Media notes). The Difference Machine. Psych Army Intergalactic. September 1, 2017.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  54. ^ a b Zapanta, David S.E. (March 8, 2018). „Hap and Leonard Season 3 Episode 1: The Two-Bear Mambo Review“. Den of Geek!. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  55. ^ „Lights, camera, action! In downtown Cedartown for „Hap and Leonard.“. The Standard Journal. PressReader. October 4, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2018.„Hap and Leonard“ filming kicks off in Cedartown today“. The Standard Journal. September 25, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2018.

Further reading

External links