As 2018 marks the 80th birthday of legendary singer-songwriter Bill Withers, critically acclaimed contemporary jazz and R&B musician José James has announced a national tribute tour vetted by Withers himself. The Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers tour kicks off on 1/11 in NYC. To give fans a taste of what’s to come, James shared his “Better Off Dead” live video yesterday with NPR. Watch it here.
An ace genre-blurring vocalist and bandleader, James has won acclaim for his deeply felt tributes to Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, but this is his most ambitious project to date. The two-year world tour playing the Withers songbook is backed by an incredible band handpicked for the job (Sullivan Fortner on keys, Brad Allen Williams on guitar, Ben Williams on bass, and Nate Smith on drums) and will culminate in a LP release next year.