When Rev. Al Green gave his first sermon in 1976, the message was “I believe therefore I am.”
“I just believe what The Word says. I don’t try and explain, explain, explain,” says Green. “Every man’s interpretation of (religion) is, I suppose, to his own liking. But I don’t think God is going to leave you much room to mistake about it.”
Sunday, Dec. 18, the soul singing superstar turned Baptist preacher was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his Full Gospel Tabernacle church in Memphis, Tenn.
His music career — both gospel and secular — has proceeded in fits and starts since then. Green has not been in the studio proper in the eight years since the release of 2008’sLay it Down, an album co-produced by the Roots’ Amir “Questlove” Thompson, which paired him with a generation of younger artists like John Legend and Anthony Hamilton.
Over the last few years, as his concert schedule dwindled, it appeared that Green was inching towards a formal retirement from the stage. “It was burning me out,” he says. “I just wanted to take some time off to gather my head.” Today, Green allows he may eventually return to the road – noting the possibility of a tour of the Far East next year.
Asked if he has any remaining career goals — he’s a 14-time Grammy winner, a member of the Rock and Roll, Gospel and Songwriters Halls of Fame — Green sighs. “I done did a lot of stuff, man. There’s some things I’d like to do, maybe [play] three or four cities of the United States and then go back to the house and read some more of the (Bible),” he says, chuckling. “I’m not hankering for anything, not really.”