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The singer, Robert Finley, lives in the tiny, forgotten town of Bernice, Louisiana, right near the Arkansas line. In his younger days his music took him all over the world. Joining the Army as a teenager, Finley was sent to Europe as a helicopter technician but found more appealing work as the leader of the Army band and toured the continent many times over on guitar and vocals. Following his rambling military service, he learned the trade of carpentry and settled back home in the States.
He leaned on his gospel and blues songs for a hobby rather than career, and mostly confined his artistry to the streets of the South. Finley lost most of his eyesight and was recently forced to retire from carpentering. Yet he is a self-taught musician who started writing his own songs at age 10. Learning to play by ear, he developed a unique personal style that continues to serve him well today.
A few years back, Finley was playing some R&B songs to a street crowd in Arkansas when he met a member of the Music Maker Foundation, an organization that provides direct support to older and underprivileged musicians. One thing led to another, and before you know it, Finley had written, recorded, and released an LP, Age Don’t Mean a Thing, on Big Legal Mess Records in the fall of 2016.
His producer, Dan Auerbach, says “Finley is a blues guitar player, but when he puts his guitar down, you could set him in front of an orchestra and he would sing just as good as Ray Charles on the first take. He has that magnetic hugeness about his voice and just knows where to put it in the pocket, always.”
Finley’s second album, Goin’ Platinum! has just been released in this last month of 2017. The title is a phrase Finley would repeat every time producer Auerbach replayed a finished track.
K-ZAP 93.3 FM and streaming online at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/ is the place where you’ll hear Robert Finley’s tune from his second album. It showcases Finley’s strong vocals on “Get It While You Can” written by Dan Auerbach, Pat McLaughlin and John Prine. “Bang Bang!” comes from the “Murder Ballads” project of Auerbach and Finley. Or, just play the videos below. Thanks for listening!
Age Don’t Mean A Thing (2016)
Goin’ Platinum! (2017)
with Dan Auerbach
Murder Ballads (EP)(2017)