Born in 1946 in Dansby, a sharecropper community near Forrest City, Arkansas, in the Mississippi Delta, Al Green grew up both there and in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he began singing gospel with his brothers and touring the gospel circuit in the Midwest and Southwest through the '60s. In 1969, at a gig in Midland, Texas, Green met Memphis producer Willie Mitchell, the man responsible for such '70s Green hits as "Tired of Being Alone," an insinuating cover of the Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You," the yearning "Let's Stay Together," and "I'm Still in Love With You." Heavy on backbeat, muscular and spare in arrangement (even the strings are wiry), Mitchell's settings for Green's richly soulful tenor and gripping falsetto are among the highlights of classic soul music. The Hi Records productions yielded 23 R&B hits for Green and Mitchell from 1970 to 1977, including 18 pop hits. As Little Richard had the decade before, Green "rediscovered" God in the mid-'70s, forswearing a pop career to concentrate on gospel. He reunited with Mitchell in 1985 to record He Is the Light
, a gospel album. Since that time, he has toured behind various greatest-hits CDs. For a sampling of his latest concerns and preaching (whether Green sings secular or religious material, he's always preaching), visit his website: www.algreen.com
You can count on electrifying moments when Green brings his revue to the State Theatre. He'll probably wear his trademark white suit and be backed by a large group of singers and musicians wearing black to highlight his potentially intoxicating blend of spirituality and sexuality. Whether the head of Memphis's Full Gospel Tabernacle Church will telegraph his performance, as he did in Playhouse Square two years ago, or work at delivering the charged sensuality of his soul and gospel classics is a matter of speculation. Yet the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is so popular here, his audience likely will applaud him no matter how listless the performance.