Kicking off his world tour, gospel legend Melvin Williams stopped by the Grammy Museum L.A. LIVE on Oct. 5, to share insight and music from his new album, “Where I Started From.”
The event, presented by American Express, offered the audience an intimate view at his love of traditional gospel music as well as singing by the Grammy-winning artist.
He performed several selections from “Where I Started From” including “How I Got Over” and “Claim It Now.” Then Williams bought the audience to its feet with his chart- topping song, “Cooling Water,” which has over 11 million YouTube views.
As member of the iconic Williams Brothers, Melvin Williams has garnered six Grammy nominations as a lead singer, songwriter and producer of the group’s albums. Also, he received a Grammy nomination for Best Male Vocalist in the gospel category for his first solo album, “Back to the Cross.”
The “Where I Started From” tour is part of Williams’ Preserve Traditional Gospel Music (PTGM) campaign. According to Williams, “Gospel music is the roots, the rock, the foundation of our heritage, America’s heritage and we must educate this now generation whose shoulders they stand. I like all kinds of music, contemporary, praise and worship, but good old traditional church music is just true to our DNA.”
As the genre evolves, he continues to show his appreciation of the gospel church music by touring annually playing concerts, festivals, churches, conferences, and hosting Master Classes on the art form and the history of gospel music.
From his southern Mississippi roots to his touring Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Georgia as U.S. Music Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Melvin Williams’ mission is taking hold with his raspy, soulful vocals and left-handed vassapoo-style, acoustic guitar playing.
The vassapoo style of guitar playing is actually playing a standard right-handed guitar turned over with all the strings upside down, with the lowest notes at the bottom instead of the top. While the style is unique and rare in gospel music, many left-handed guitarists have employed the style such as Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, and Justin Bieber.