On his recent release, and Sony Records debut, Robert Randolph Got Soul. Soul music as a style, and all secular music, came to Robert later in life. Though many musicians mixed church choirs with outside music on the radio, Robert Randolph’s sole influence as a child was the music in church. He learned the pedal steel guitar as a family hand-me-down in the little-known gospel tradition of the sacred steel through the House of God Church in Orange, New Jersey. In his teens, Robert Randolph discovered Rock, Soul, Jazz, and Funk through involvement with the jam band scene and he took the lessons of church back to school to develop his own sound. His personal history with music was a part of a musical heritage that dated back to the 1920’s as his own time with the sacred steel began early in life. Robert recalled that ‘it was all church music. It was a movement within our church and that’s all we used to do. All music is related. Gospel is the same as Blues. The only thing that changes is in hardcore gospel people are singing about God and Jesus and in the Blues people are singing about ‘my baby left me’ and whiskey. When we first started out, guys really weren’t allowed to leave the church. I was the one that stepped out and started this thing. My dad would say, ‘Why do you come home smelling like beer and cigarettes?’ ‘Well, we just got done playing some smoky club till 2 a.m.!’ It was all foreign and different’.
The differences come born again on Got Soul as Robert Randolph lets his sacred steel wail and roar, picking out a path into the album with the title track as an opening cut letting “Got Soul” wander through the French Quarter into a New Orleans story. Over a demanding beat, Robert Randolph and the Family Band cruise out onto the highway with their own set of demands in “I Want It”, use runaway rhythm as a cure for “Lovesick”, encourage self-awareness backed by funky chord patter with “Be the Change”, and follow the “Travelin’ Cheeba Man” on a fast train groove. Friends stop by to lend a hand, and voice, for Got Soul as Robert Randolph and the Family Band are joined by Darius Rucker (“Love Do What It Do”), Anthony Hamilton (“She Got Soul”) and partner with Corey Henry to raise a hand in gratitude on the Sam and Dave classic “I Thank You”.