A plethora of singers claim to also be songwriters. Only a handful of songwriters claim to be the best singers of their own songs. To join that golden circle of artists who are actually excellent in both regards requires exceptional skill as a songwriter and better than average talent as a vocalist. Terry Callier excels in both categories.
Callier (May 24, 1945 – October 27, 2012, born and died in Chicago) is a sensitive and insightful chronicler of the complexity of the human condition. The range of his love songs encompasses areas not usually touched by lesser artists. For example “Chelsea Blue” is an achingly beautiful rendition of unrequited love. He does not celebrate her failure with a rival who hurts her, nor does he try to capture her attention on the rebound.
While he was looking at Chelsea, who only saw him as a friend, another woman had deep romantic eyes for Terry. He was unaware. His friends pulled his coat and he was shocked when he did as he was advised, hence the song “Look in 2 U”.
Moreover, Mr. Callier goes far beyond romanticism in defining what love is and can mean. One of his signature songs is “What Color Is Love”.
Terry Callier understands that love is an activity, an act of giving, of helping to make the world a better place and to make our relationships as positive as possible; towards that goal, Callier has an anthemic song “Keep Your Heart Right”.
A number of Callier’s compositions concentrate on social conditions. He deals with the post-Reconstruction migration of African Americans from countryside to citywide. During the 20th century we moved from a predominately rural and agrarian people to mainly urban dwellers who were for the most part service industry and factory workers. While urban life was far better than chattel slavery, Terry does not ignore the down side of urban life.
Callier is far more than an entertainer who helps people feel good for a minute. Callier encourages his audience to think as well as feel and this is what makes him a true artist who deals with truth and beauty. Fortunately, there are two video recordings of his live sets.
1.Fix The Blame
2.What Color Is Love
6.Nobody But Yourself
8.No More Blues
We’ll conclude this consideration of some of Callier’s music with a live version of TimePeace. His 1998 album, which featured tenor saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders on the title selection, won the the United Nations Time For Peace award “for outstanding artistic achievement contributing to world peace”.
Welcome to this abbreviated consideration of the wonder-filled music of Terry Callier.