Daddy B. Nice's #62 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"I'm Missin' You Babe"
Composed by Bruce Billups, Theodis Ealey & Gregory P. Jones
April 12, 2015:
Watch incredible dancers twisting and twerking while Lebrado sings "Fire" Live in the Club on YouTube.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile:When people ask me for a definition of Southern Soul music, I often start out by saying, "It's just rock and roll," another way of saying it's soul music for the popular market. Few contemporary Southern Soul singles illustrate the far-reaching charisma of vintage rock and roll better than Lebrado's "I'm Missin' You Babe." Musically, the song defies customary genre boundaries. It could be folk. It could be alternative. It could be pop. It could be said to derive from just about anything in popular music, but the one thing this pure Southern Soul song does not sound like is urban.
The chord progressions are of a simplicity to conjure amateur guitar-pickers hanging out in a dowdy living room with book shelves on concrete blocks or around a fire on a college-kid "woodsy," strumming away between slugs of beer or tokes on a pipe.
The words are likewise standard fare, the most basic and generic of emotional issues, namely. . . "I'm missing you, babe."
What, then, is the secret to this song's incredible magic and its firm hold on the imaginations of Southern Soul fans since it first came out in the mid-00's? What makes this song any different or better than "Kumbaya" or "Michael row the boat ashore"?
Listen to Lebrado singing "I'm Missing You Babe" on YouTube while you read.
The answer is that "I'm Missing You, Babe" isn't any better, necessarily. Both "Kumbaya" and "Michael Rows" were based on what used to be called traditional black "spirituals," only their pop distillations became so familiarized over the years that their religious themes became invisible, trite. They no longer carried any underlying weight or power.
"I'm Missing You, Babe" taps into those same, near-invisible roots in the religious aspirations of early Black Americans. The framework of the song may sound like pure, folkish pop, but that's only because the form has become such an integral part of our culture, homogenized for mass consumption.
But the secret of the song is in that tenuous tie to a simpler time, when people of great character sang elemental ballads that provided salve for the spirit.
The other key to the song's popularity is Lebrado's one-of-a-kind vocal. Few songs ingratiate themselves with a listener on the first sung note, but that is exactly what Lebrado does when he croons the opening words, "Ohhh girl...."
It's a voice that has a certain huskiness to go along with a modest casualness. Tone is everything, and those first notes are guaranteed to win over all but the most recalcitrant. And as the song progresses Lebrado stretches out, ratcheting up the power and emotion, throwing out gospel licks in a way that would do Stevie Wonder (in his prime) proud.
But it all begins with that perfect, guy-next-door sound, that disarming mixture of the every-day and the heavenly. It's one thing to be middle-of-the-pack. It's quite another to stake out "middle ground" with the authority of a master, which is what young Lebrado does.
When I first saw your face,
I knew I'd never find another
That would ever take your place."
In Lebrado's singing, the phrase is rich with impressions--you can almost reach out and touch the woman.
Later, Lebrado sings the chorus:
"I'm missing you, babe
Is it true, babe?
I miss those good old days
When love was okay."
By the time he sings--
"Can you give me just one more chance?"
--Lebrado has taken his vocal to a level that threatens to blow the roof off.
Of no little assistance is the fine guitar work of Theodis Ealey, Southern Soul's pre-eminent guitarist, who at the time of Lebrado's recording was at his "Stand Up In It"/"Please Let Me In"-picking pinnacle. The background, choreographed by Ealey and talented producer Bruce Billups, is a thing of beauty, a tapestry of delectable musical elements.
You can really hear this tapestry in the last stanza before the fade-out, which is all instrumental. The rhythm section and a generous helping of strings do the rest, but it's Lebrado himself who transforms the whole. His vocal is equal to the task, and the result is one of one of the sweetest, gentlest love songs in 20th Century Southern Soul.
--Daddy B. Nice
Lebrado Wilson, aka Lebrado, is a native of the Charlotte suburb of Wingate, North Carolina. Lebrado made his musical debut as a back-up singer on the single "Suicide" by Jodeci from their 2000 album, X.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"I knew from the first minute I met you, babe,
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked Ollie Nightingale's "She's In A Midnight Mood (In The Middle Of The Day)," you'll love Lebrado's "I'm Missin' You, Babe."
Honorary "B" Side
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