Since the 1960s, soul veteran Don Bryant has been making music, and at 78 years old today, he remains a force in the Memphis music scene. His unique style and recent work have earned him praise from Rolling Stone, and he shows no signs of slowing down. We caught up with Don Bryant to ask him 5 questions about his music career. Read on to see where Don got started and where he’s headed in the future.
1. How did your music career get started?
Well, it started when I was very young. I had a family with 7 boys and 3 girls. My daddy had a quartet. And, I don’t know, I always tried to imitate them and different artists and it just stuck with me and never left. I was probably 12 or 14 years old.
2. How would you describe your music style?
That would be hard to do, because I was always trying to imitate different artists that I heard that were already out there. I never did style wise ever concentrate on that, even when I got older and started singing with a group. I guess in trying to imitate so many different artists I didn’t grab hold to a style, I just sang it how I felt it. That helped me learn a whole lot of different styles.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about being a musician over the years?
I love it so much and I enjoy doing it. Those that were on top doing it, I’d like to imitate them to see if I could sing in that style. The biggest lesson I learned was that this is my passion.
4. As a musician, what’s your biggest goal or hope for your future?
The goals and the hopes I once had are what I’m experiencing now with where I am as an artist around the world, pretty much. I would say my new goal would be to continue doing it and make sure that the crowd is enjoying what I’m doing. It helps me to see that they’re happy.
5. How do you feel about Memphis’ music history? Would you say Memphis sounds have influenced your music?
Oh yes, definitely so! Memphis music, even when I was young, was really making a strong mark in the music business. I was around a lot of the artists that were coming through. Studios in Memphis were not that far from each other, and I was connected with the recording studio and learned a lot from well known artists that recorded there. I learned from other artists doing their styles, which was helpful because the majority of the time I was working with the Willie Mitchell Band working night clubs, and we had to do the songs that were popular at the time to keep people dancing. It was never a certain style I was after, it was just singing the songs that others had done which helped me to learn a whole lot about music before I got the opportunity to go off and do recording on my own.