I'm here now because of my faith. That's what got me singing and what has kept me singing. That is what I have: what has kept me doing right and has provided me with the chances and the attitude and the skills to do this.
So I went in front of the judge, and I had my St. Jude prayer book in my pocket and my St. Jude medal. And I'm standing there and that judge said I was found guilty, so he sentenced me to what the law prescribed: one to 14 years.
I never really got paid for 'Tell It Like Is,' but I look back at it and say God knew what he was doing; he probably figured that if I had got money back in them days, I wouldn't be here now. That's okay. I'm here. And I'm still singing the song.
You've just got to sing, do some kind of singing every day. Early mornings and cold weather can mess with that. I drink special teas with cayenne pepper, but I think you're psyching yourself out, really.
My brother Art was a doo-wopper. He had a group that sat out on a park bench in New Orleans and sang harmonies at night, and they'd go around and win all the talent shows and get all the girls, you know.
When I was growing in the Callope project, we had an oval parkway. Pavement ran around this whole thing. We'd skate or ride bicycles. There were benches and trees out there. It was paradise to us. They finished building it the same year I was born.
Doo-wop is the true music to me, man. Doo-wop was what nurtured me and grew me into who I am, and I guess even when I was in school, the teacher probably thought I had ADD or something every day, because I'd be beating on the desks, singing like the Flamingos or the Spaniels or Clyde McPhatter or somebody.
When I'm singing, it's a mixture of my innocence in the projects, my mom and dad. It's all the good and the bad, the laughs and the frowns that I went through and seen other people go through. Then you be trying to write it. Whatever's coming out, you try and make it all cool.
'Yellow Moon' was a poem. My wife at the time, Joel - she's dead now - it was our 25th anniversary. She had the chance to go on a cruise with her sister. And I'm home with the kids and looking up, and I saw the big moon, and I just started writing.
I used to always sing my way into the movies and the basketball games or whatever. I'd sing for whoever's on the door, and they'd let me in. I used to think I was Nat King Cole back in the day, you know. So I'd sing something like, 'Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you,' and they'd let me in.