What was once old is new again for Blues and R&B singer Billy Valentine. Sing along with the master performer as he reimagines the soundtrack of the 1960s that inspired a generation as the opening act for Sunset Concerts on Thursday, July 20, at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, in Los Angeles.
Valentine has performed socially conscious tunes since the 1970s, including his funk hit, “Money’s Too Tight (to Mention).” His return to the limelight relaunches the iconic record label the Flying Dutchman which released his remarkable comeback album titled “Billy Valentine and the Universal Truth.”
“It’s such an honor because of the history of the Flying Dutchman, but also because the founder of the label, Bob Thiele Sr.’s son and I are such great friends,” said Valentine.
“He came to me and asked me to be one of the first artists of the relaunching of the Flying Dutchman which has a great history of artists on the label.”
Formerly a 1960s New York-based company, the Flying Dutchman was founded by Bob Thiele, Sr. Thiele’s musical vision could be summed up in the song he co-wrote that was immortalized by the incomparable Louis Armstrong, “What A Wonderful World.”
Although the song has been portrayed as a feel-good tune in films, Thiele wrote it to ease racial tensions during the Civil Rights Movement. Thiele and Valentine were a perfect label match.
“I am a voice of the conscious,” said Valentine. “I’m a soul man. …I believe that music can change things if people let it” he said, adding that he and Thiele’s son have been close friends and writing partners for 40 years.
Possessing an emphatic and graceful voice, Valentine draws upon the soul of Flying Dutchman’s catalog of music from such artists as Gil Scott-Heron and Leon Thomas for his new album.
While recording the album in the studio, the world erupted in protest after the murder of George Floyd. Although it was deeply painful, it assured Valentine that this generation needed a flashback of the 1960s healing message music.
“I was feeling the pain of someone like George Floyd,” said Valentine, who was in the studio recording his reimagined version of Gil Scott-Heron’s “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” during the protests. “…that just broke my heart.”
Valentine’s concert repertoire will include poignant renditions of songs originally recorded and written by Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Eddie Kendricks, and Pharoh Sanders. Showtime is Thursday, July 20, at 8 p.m. Galleries and concessions open at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on tickets for the show, visit www.skirball.org/programs/public-programs.