Orleans Records is proud to announce the first release on 12″ vinyl of New Orleans’ “President Of Soul,” Rockie Charles’, Born For You. Originally recorded at Bonvillians Music, Hart Sound and The Garage studios outside of New Orleans proper with Orleans Records’ founder Carlo Ditta producing; the album was first issued in 1996 to critical acclaim from aficionados of Blues and Southern Soul the world over. Born For You is being issued on vinyl, CD and digital download November 24 by Orleans, distributed by Select-O-Hits.
Having abandoned music for decades while working as a tugboat captain on the Mississippi, Charles advertised his services as a musician in a local paper and came to the notice of Ditta who assembled a crack team of local players to bring Rockie’s masterful, deeply soulful compositions to life. Recalling the silky, smoked tones of icons like Al Green and O.V. Wright, Charles vocals are framed here by earthy but supple grooves that could have come straight out of Hi Studios in its heyday.
Born in Boothville, LA, Charles first picked up the guitar inspired by his father, Earlington, a bluesman who’d played rural juke joints. As he turned 13, Rockie’s family moved to the 9th Ward in New Orleans where he studied music Houston’s School of Music. Charles began appearing at talent contests at an African-American amusement park on Lake Ponchartrain competing with other aspiring talents like Ernie K-Doe and Aaron Neville.
Rockie went on to play in a neighborhood band, the Eagles while attending high school, before dropping out to take a job as a tugboat deckhand eventually working his way up to captain. One night after work he caught a performance by the legendary R&B performer Guitar Slim which would inspire him to return to music, forming the Gadges Soulful Band back home in New Orleans playing local fraternities and clubs.
Rockie released his first single “Mr. Rickasha” b/w “Sinking Like a Ship” via Senator Jones’ Black Patch label, a strong seller in his home town. The song’s success led to him being signed to a Nashville booking agency and touring in the backing bands of Southern Soul stars like O.V. Wright, Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, and Little Johnny Taylor among others. Tiring of life on the road, he returned home to New Orleans to settle down and started a label to release his own work; this included singles like the masterful dancefloor filler “The President of Soul” and “Show My People Around The Curve”.
Eventually he went back to his trade as a tugboat captain and forsook music for the next several decades until he caught the attention of Orleans’ Carlo Ditta and recorded Born For You. Rockie would release two more albums Have You Seen My Uncle Steve and I Want First Class before his death from cancer in 2010.
Read some of the great Reviews of this phenomenal artist –
His album Born For You with Orleans Records is an unpretentious album of original Southern soul that owes more to the music of Al Green and O.V. Wright than to Blues or even New Orleans R&B. Charles plaintive vocals are laid back and serviceable. His sparse clean guitar work reminds you of Stax-era Steve Cropper as it fits in perfectly with the horns and organ.
Charles plaintive vocal are laid back and serviceable. His sparse clean guitar work reminds you of Stax-era Steve Cropper as it fits in perfectly with the horns and organ.
Thomas J. Cullen, Blues Revue
Charles Merrickʼs sweet comeback album contains the kind of radiant soul music testifying that changes listeners into evangelical zealots.
Pulse Magazine Sept 97, Lone Wolf Indy100
Charles smooth and chunky rhythm guitar licks and perfect amounts of coarsely ground organ fills, unrefined horn charts and the sweetness of an angelic country church choir throughout the music is uncalculated one of a kind conception full bodied and mesmerizing…Born For You presents an unassuming and bewildering talent, gently preaching, quietly testifying and finally joufully paying tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. In the process Rockie Charles also manages to encapsulate the exposition of R&B as a native art form…
Roger Hahn, Offbeat Feb 97 vol 10 #2
This is simply an incredible disc by a magnificently talented and unique artist. This is classic Southern soul at its very, very best! Sanctified Southern soul. Full of feeling, beautifully arranged and executed and lushly produced and recorded…sure to bring a warm glow to every soul and R&B lover out there. A real unexpected but most welcome
AG, Real Blues Jan 97