Interview: Gedeon Luke and The People

Gedeon Luke and the People album cover

Gedeon Luke is an ambassador of love and a believer in soul. A Memphis native, Luke grew up with the church and infuses his music with the best parts of Gospel sounds. He is happy, upbeat and positive which reflects tenfold in his music. Music for this man, and his band, is pure joy. Music is a way of life and a way to deliver the good news.

Gedeon Luke and The People are passionate artists. Their shows are uplifting, interactive, spiritual events. They come together to create music, inspiring a spiritual revivals in listeners. Gedeon Luke and The People bring love, peace, and soul wherever they go.

After a long rehearsal, Gedeon Luke was kind enough to speak to Pop-Break discussing his music, his life philosophies and his faith and spirituality.

How did your rehearsal go?

Oh it was incredible. The band is on fire. We’ve been having a real good time. You know the way that the weather is and the feeling of the spirit outside. You know, the sun don’t shine like it used to so it’s always good to get with the band and have a rehearsal just to brighten the day. Making some new tunes and stuff going and we just getting ready for Friday and we have a big show tomorrow [Tuesday] in Pennsylvania and Friday at the Wonder Bar so we’re going to have a good time. So rehearsal was really good.

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Do you feel that your faith plays a part in your music and musical style or your music brought you to faith?

I’d say faith brought me to the music. You can’t do anything without faith. Faith is the substance of things. So we might be on a journey trying to go somewhere in life and all we have is our testimony. So when you put your testimony with music it creates a song. All of our songs are nothing but testimonies, what we go through in life. So faith plays a big part in my music. Without faith we wouldn’t have lyrics to the songs, we wouldn’t know what to write about, to talk about. And because of that faith and because of the struggles that we go through in life, you know you meet people along the way that go through things that are similar to you. It’s important to be able to say those words in the songs- to comfort people. It’s all comfort. All comfort comes from God, it’s all comfort. So yeah faith has a big part to play in the music that we do. I go to church all the time. I was born and raised up in the church and so in a lot of my music it feels like I have a lot of church in it

Yeah, it’s a really big sound.

Well that’s the whole thing about music. Music has always brought people together and when I write songs I always think about what can bring people together. The last band to do something like that, to me, is Sly and The Family Stone. [My] band is like a family. It’s all about faith. Faith leads you to family. Faith leads you to trust. Faith leads you to love. Faith leads you to happiness. And faith leads you to write good music and bring the people together.

Which song do you think brings together your whole album?

I’d probably say “Live Free.” The lyrics say “I’m just a man trying to get by. I might not have riches but I have the time. I’m just a lover reaching for your hand, we’ve got to love each other I wish you’d understand. It doesn’t matter what you say or what you do all that matters is that you know the truth.” Live Free and Love, that’s what I named the record. That’s actually one of the last songs we wrote to put on the record and it turned out to be the title track for the record. Live free and love, that what my message is all about. Living free, being who you are, and loving everybody that you come into contact with. I don’t care if this person is this way or that way, if this person is this religion or that religion. We are all part of one race and that’s the human race.

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If that was one of the songs that brought it all together and one of the last songs you wrote…

It was one of the last songs we wrote and one of the last songs we recorded for that particular record and it turned out to be the title of the record.

That’s pretty amazing because a lot of times it’s the first song written that sparks an album and it’s theme or message. “Live Free” brings the album together, but what song started the album?

The first song we did on the album was “Soul Child.” I wrote that song before I moved to London back in 2000 – I think it was 2008 and when I moved back to the states, I think it was around 2009 2010, we went in the studio and we rerecorded the song. But that song, “Soul Child” has been around for a very, very long time and when we first started recording that song it was supposed to just be a demo but it turned out to be one of the greatest songs. We still have that song on our sets. I don’t know what show we’ve done where we haven’t sang “Soul Child.” It’s good to know that songs do stick around. A lot of the songs we sing, a lot of my music hasn’t really been put out to the world yet but we’ve been singing these songs for a long time.

What’s your writing process? Does it all come at once or do you tend to lean lyrically or melodically?

I’m influenced by the guitar. Usually we just write songs on the guitar. I hear the chords. Me and my writing partner Marc Swersky, he’ll just start playing something and ask me “do you feel this?” and maybe I say no, maybe I say yes. If I feel something we’ll write to it. That’s how we wrote most of our songs. I call them spirit chords. If I can hear that spirit chord, if I can feel that energy coming from the guitar and feel that spirit then it’s very easy to come up with the song. Another song that brought the whole record together was “Standing On Top of the World.” I wrote that song in like 20 minutes on the train coming from Asbury to New York City. But it’s important that I can feel those chords, cause if I don’t feel the chords then the music is hard to put lyrics together with that. To me everything is spiritual. The writing process, the lyrics. The people in the band are incredible. No egos, they’ve been around the world millions of times. I don’t know how many times these guys have been around. They play with everybody. We all come together, it’s like a church.

That’s beautiful, that sounds great.

Thank you. Do you go to church sometime?

No, I don’t anymore. I went to Catholic school for most of my life so Catholic church is a little bit more…

Yeah, it’s a different kind of church. This is soul, rock, funk, gospel because it all started from Gospel. Some of the first Grammy awards that were given out were Gospel awards because at that particular time, close to 70 years ago, Gospel was the mainstream music. It has been changing. There have been revolutions of music for years. In the ‘50s you had the doo-wop, songs like “Shout” in the ‘60s, then in the ‘70s you have Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, on into the disco era and then the hip hop era. Then we had the 2001 era that was big pop. But now that’s all moving out. Now we’re living at a time where soul and gospel is coming back around. The real music sound. Not those things that you just hear, synthesizers all over your songs. Songs that have no emotion, no feeling. These are real songs that come straight from the soul, straight from the heart, moving by the spirit. And that’s what we do. The People do. It’s a spiritual revival.

You describe yourself and your music as ‘Love, Peace, and Soul’ which is a beautiful sentiment. How do you come to shape your life and music around these life tenets and how do you want to see others incorporating it into their lives?

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I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee in the projects and I was surrounded by a lot of gang violence, a lot of drug abuse. I had a lot of friends who were raped, their mothers and fathers were on drugs. My father has a lot of drug complications in his life. He eventually died when I was 17 years old. Seeing all that and growing up around all that and meeting people, being forced to be very social. Music saved my life. i know that I’m supposed to be out doing something that’s involved with music because my gift is not for me it. My gift is for everybody else. I might have a talent but my talent is there to spread the good news to everybody. If I sing a song, if I write song, if it’s about me, it’s not going to go right. But if it’s about the people because the people are what matter, bringing the people together. That’s how the people are affected by what we do. I can write songs like that and I thank God. I thank God for the trials and the tribulations I went through as a child because it made me stronger. It made me understand what it was really like to write a song about, to write a song about peace, and to write a song about soul. We are ambassadors of love, ambassadors for peace, ambassadors for the soul music. When I write music or when I get on stage and perform, I do that for the people. It’s all for the people because if I don’t feel it then what I’m saying is useless. It doesn’t mean anything if the message isn’t getting across. So I like to involve all these people into what we do. It’s a family affair.

“Lend Me Your Sunshine” seems like it’s about a particular person. But your philosophy when writing and performing is making it about and for the people. Who or what did you have in mind when creating that song?

When I write songs you don’t know if I’m talking to God or to a woman or to a group of people. But the song “Lend Me Your Sunshine” is pictured as a beautiful woman I’m talking too. And actually what it is, is anybody. Whoever has a smile on their face. That’s what the sunshine is. Nowadays, we live in a world where love is lax and cold. It’s like if you walk down the street and say hello to somebody, they’re so afraid to speak back to you. We live in a very fearful time and that’s why when I wrote the song “Lend Me Your Sunshine” I say “what would you think if I told you there are more colors than gray. What would you do if I showed you a game only you and me could play. Sweetly, softly I whisper your name swiftly, spinning candles in the rain. Hey I say before you walk away, why don’t you lend me your sunshine.” It’s like this- when you stand next to somebody on the train or you’re at a concert or you’re at church and you have a neighbor sitting next to you, that person may be going through something and all they need is that smile from you to uplift their day. That’s what the sunshine is. It’s all about us coming together. It’s all about people coming together. Stopping the fighting, stopping the war and stopping the killing. But loving again. Love is a message that is old as time.

Photo Credit: Kyle C. Mumford
Photo Credit: Kyle C. Mumford

What do you hope your listeners take away from your music?

I want people to take something home with them. My daddy used to always say, “When you have a show they should walk in there with their shoes on and walk out with their shoes off cause they done had a good time.” I want people to take something home with them. In other words to remember the moment we shared together because every time that we can come together is a precious moment. And if people can take that moment home with them, tell people how good they felt that night. I just want people to be uplifted again. It’s time to stop the crying, it’s time to stop the beating, it’s time to stop the killing. I want people to come together in love and unity again. I want people, when they come to the show, to have such a good time that they take a piece of that home with them. They might not have a CD to go home but spiritually I want to leave an imprint on their heart about the messages in the songs- what we were trying to convey. It’s all about love, it’s all about peace. It’s all about soul. I want them to take a little piece of us with them. You know what I’m saying? You ever go out and have such an incredible night and when you go home you can’t go to sleep because you had such a great time? That’s what I want.

The exhilaration of the night.

Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. You know how to put the words together.

Live Free and Love you recorded it live in a room which is different from how artists record these days. Why did you choose to approach your debut album this way?

I always knew growing up, singing as a little boy, that I had a different tone in my voice. I also knew that I didn’t want what everyone else wanted. I guess as far as blowing up and being a big superstar or something and spending all your money and stuff like that. I wanted something different. So in order for me to give the world something different I wanted to get the band all in the studio at the same time and we do it live. It’s something about the magic, once again, of coming together. I’ve hired musicians before when I’ve recorded demos and stuff like that to come in and just play from time to time. But there’s been no better way for this band to get together. And it’s the people. That’s why I call my band The People. You got Jack Daley from Lenny Kravitz band, Sarah Tomek who plays with Steven Tyler now. She recorded half of the record. She’s a drummer. Karl Denson, he was with Lenny and a bunch of people. Bobby Sparks, played with Kirk Franklin and Prince. And I had James Posner from The Roots, he came in on the record. What I wanted was, I wanted to get the best musicians in the same room and we just lay it out. I wanted to have a spiritual revival. A spiritual revival right there in the studio so that people can feel that impact from what we we did right there in the studio, together. Not somebody coming in and redoing this or doing this take or that take. There’s something about when people can come together and make one sound, that’s what I wanted.

Gedeon Luke and The People perform with Des & The Swagmatics, The Shady Street Show Band, and The Jack Moves on Friday August 28 at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ. Click here for tickets.

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Marley Ghizzone is the current music editor and former Breaking News Editor for The Pop Break. Aside from writing news, Marley reviews television shows and the odd film. Pop culture is her drug of choice and her talents include binge watching entire seasons of TV shows obsessively fast and crying over fictional characters. Marley is a graduate of Rowan University. Follow her on twitter: @marleyveee

1 COMMENT

  1. Saw them at their record release show at the Wonder Bar. Had no idea who they were but they got a few new fans that night.

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