Unconditional Love on the "Spirit Soul Music" Edition of WRTI's Ovations
When most people think of a love song, it’s usually about being in, falling in, or falling out of a romantic relationship. Yet, we know love is not singularly focused on passion and can refer to other matters that stir our hearts, minds, and souls. As host of the “Spirit Soul Music” edition of Ovations on WRTI, Sundays from 6 to 9 AM, I believe that music, like love, should chart an adventurous, yet chilled-out path that opens unheralded gateways to one’s heartstrings.
On Valentine’s Day, 2021, I look to enrich your listening experience with a musical exploration of spiritual-centric, and often controversial love songs that hail from Neo Soul, R&B, Gospel, Worship, and, of course, Jazz. The music that will be offered is not the typical radio love songs, but a message of universal and unconditional love.
I'm also looking for your atypical Valentine's Day requests and dedications! Fill out our request form here.
The legendary singer/songwriter Leon Ware once explained to me that the only difference between a love song and a gospel song is its intention. One of the most heralded examples of this is John Coltrane’s 1965 album, A Love Supreme, a four-part spiritually grounded masterpiece performed with his quartet that he called his "humble offering to God."
A Love Supreme, Pt. I – "Acknowledgement"
Philadelphia’s soul style often reminded listeners of their moral imperative to demonstrate love for friends, family, and especially community. During the disco-infused era of the '70s, artists associated with the vocal stylings and lush instrumental arrangements of the Sound of Philadelphia implored fans with political and social lyrics to “understand while you dance."
A prime example was offered by The O’Jays, whose Message In The Music album is often more gospel than R&B, and showcases the mission of the songwriting and production team lead by Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble of Philadelphia International Records. In addition to the title track, “A Prayer,” it serves as a hidden gem in the O'Jays' treasure chest of songs.
The O'Jays - "A Prayer" (official audio)
As the lead singer of Earth, Wind & Fire, Philip Bailey’s octave-spanning falsetto has covered sentimental romance alongside the theme of spiritual enlightenment. Bailey continued that spiritually minded mission with his latest critically acclaimed 2019 solo release, “Love Will Find a Way.” The jazz-fusion multi-generational album features artists such as Chick Corea, Kamasi Washington, Will I Am, Robert Glasper, and Philly’s own Bilal.
Philip Bailey - "Love Will Find A Way" (Audio) ft. Casey Benjamin
Spoken-word artist Ursula Rucker has enchanted audiences internationally with her alluring true-life stories that offer listeners an intimate glimpse of urban reality that also include the variations and nuances of love. A graduate of Temple University, where she studied journalism, the poet/activist has worked with many Philly creatives, including The Roots, King Britt, and her “soul mother,” celebrated poet Sonia Sanchez.
Rucker’s poem “L.O.V.E.” professes: “Love is alive today so. / We will speak only of love. / There will be only love on tongue and lip. / And in heart and thought."
Anthony Tidd & Sittin’ In All-Stars play Ursula Rucker's "L.O.V.E" Live from WRTI Performance Studio
I look forward to sharing the unique love songs that tug at your heartstrings on the Valentine's Day edition of "Spirit Soul Music" on Ovations, as I do every second Sunday of the month. Make your request here!