R&B singer/songwriter Case cherishes each conversation he’s held with SoulTrain.com, although there’s one that holds an extra special place in his heart. In 2011, the Grammy-nominated New York native gave us exclusive insight on Heaven’s Door, his 6th studio album that was still in its production stages. We were proud to proclaim Case was “Still Standing” after his lengthy hiatus, and he returned in 2015 to further discuss his time away as well as the completed LP. Right before the end of 2011, however, Case shared his thoughts on Soul Train’s legendary creator, adding his name to our massive multi-part all-star tribute, Valentines for Don Cornelius. Cornelius passed before it was released.
SoulTrain.com recently hung out with Case following his Bad Boy Reunion Tour guest performance. While in the midst of photos with fans, a few laughs, and a conversation about his career, he finally told us why being part of the Cornelius tribute means so much.
SoulTrain.com: Case, what has music done for you that nothing else can?
Case: Music heals me; music allows me to express myself, lets me get my anger out, my sadness, my happiness. I can just get it all out. It allows me to express myself like nothing else could.
SoulTrain.com: A lot of people suffer from the inability to express themselves, so they look for that in music. How often do you counsel to people based on the lyrics of yours they’ve heard?
Case: I’ve had a ton of people come up and tell me, “Your song said what I wasn’t able to say.” For me, that’s one of the main reasons I make music. I want to say what I want to say, but when I’m making it I feel like somebody somewhere can relate. For somebody to say that, that means I did my job.
SoulTrain.com: Did you have a structured songwriting background, or did it come naturally?
Case: It came naturally. My dad told me when I was 10, “If you’re going to do music, make sure you write.” So I used to write the worst songs ever. They were terrible. And I just kept doing it. Al B. Sure! showed me a lot about song structure and arranging. That’s where I learned the particulars of it.
SoulTrain.com: For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit more about your history with Al B. Sure!.
Case: Al was the first person to put me in the studio. There was a time I’d just go sit in the studio and watch what he was doing. I was there when he doing the first Jodeci album and Tevin Campbell’s album. One day he handed me a piece of paper and was like, “Go in there and sing this. These are the words, sing whatever comes out.” He put me on the spot! He taught me about song structure, arrangement, and melody. Al is extremely influential with me.
SoulTrain.com: “Nite and Day” is one of those songs that will live on forever. What’s your “Nite and Day?”
Case: Probably “Happily Ever After.” It’s a wedding song, it invokes a certain time in people’s lives. And I’m okay with that.
SoulTrain.com: With so many concerns with our world today, do you think more people could use a little happily ever after?
Case: The world could use a lot more love, period! It doesn’t have to be happily ever after, just more love in general. There’s so much hatred. There’s no love; there’s no love in black music, no love amongst community. We just live in a funny time.
SoulTrain.com: Case, what is your biggest personal and creative fear?
Case: That black music as we know it will be taken over and taken away from us. I just hope hip-hop and R&B don’t suffer the same fate as rock n roll. I hope we can fight it.
SoulTrain.com: A lot of people feel music preservation starts with educating the youth. What is it going to take for the youth of today to have more respect for the artistry and history that came before them?
Case: I don’t know if I have an answer for that. I think we did what we did just like the artists before us did that they did. It’s out there, and it’s going to take someone introducing it to them for them to accept it. You can’t force it on them. My grandmother had me listening to Ray Charles, James Brown, everything. In order for it to be appreciated and accepted by this generation somebody’s going to have to use it in today’s music. Introduce it in a way they can accept it.
SoulTrain.com: Don Cornelius handled a lot of introductions through Soul Train. Case, you were really excited to be part of our tribute to him, and you gave us a good quote for the article. Looking back, tell us what it meant to be part of it.
Case: Soul Train and Don Cornelius were the only thing that we had! I could turn on the TV and see myself; I saw the Jackson 5, they had a big nose like me, they had afros. That was the only place for us to see black artists. Everything else was for the white artists. Don Cornelius and Soul Train meant the world to me, so it meant the world to honor him.
SoulTrain.com: If you could perform on Soul Train today, what song from Heaven’s Door would be most appropriate for the show?
Case: I would definitely do “Timeless” because Soul Train is timeless. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album, and…it’s Soul Train!
—Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.