Pedal-steel master Robert Randolph will visit Paste Studio in New York at 2:15 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 8) to play music from his latest album, Got Soul, a fiery collection of gospel-infused blues that has earned Randolph his fifth career Grammy nomination.
Randolph, who grew up in the House of God Church in Orange, N.J., has described the album as a return to his gospel roots, specifically a little-known musical tradition called sacred steel. It was, in fact, just about the only music he’d ever heard before he was old enough to leave the nest. “I was given a tape of Stevie Ray Vaughan when I was 17,” Randolph told Paste last February, just as I Got Soul was hitting shelves, “so I listened to that every day for about three years… We were only really allowed to listen to gospel music.”
With a little more exposure to secular blues, rock, funk, soul and jazz, Randolph quickly became one of the premiere blues instrumentalists and songwriters of his generation. He formed his own band, hit the road, and performed with the likes of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Derek Trucks. Fifteen years later, with four studio albums and two live releases behind him, he recorded Got Soul in late 2016 as a salve for what he perceived as a culture losing its soul.
“Music, and being in church, gives you that connection with your soul, with God, with positivity,” he said. “I really wanted this record to be an example of all of my life experiences and life stories. But we’re always supposed to make music to uplift, to spread joy, dancing, but have lyrics that make you want to inspire somebody.”
Got Soul, which will vie for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the Grammy Awards on Jan. 28, leads off with the title track, a staccato strut that packs all of these ideas into one three-and-a-half-minute banger and unveils a record overflowing with virtuosic spirit and force.
Watch Robert Randolph perform LIVE at Paste Studio Monday at 2 p.m.