Robert "The Duke" Tillman

Daddy B. Nice's #59 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Robert "The Duke" Tillman by Daddy B. Nice
 



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"I Found Love"

Robert "The Duke" Tillman

Composed by Robert Tillman


Listen to Robert "The Duke" Tillman singing "I Found Love" on YouTube.

December 1, 2014:

A rare Robert "The Duke" Tillman appearance takes place Saturday, December 13, 2014, at the Elks Lodge, 3100 John R. Lynch St., Jackson, Mississippi. See Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar. Ms. Tabatha, another interesting and seldom-seen southern soul singer, will also headline, along with Jackson's scantly-recorded Larry Milton.

--Daddy B. Nice

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Scroll down to "Tidbits" section for the latest updates on Robert "The Duke" Tillman.

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To automatically link to Robert "The Duke" Tillman's charted radio singles, awards and other citations on the website, go to "Tillman, Robert" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
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Daddy B. Nice's original critique:

In 2001 a synthesizer-dominated dance party groove called "Drop" by Robert "The Duke" Tillman began slipping into deejay rotations in the South. It may have been the first synth-soul track to be heard on the chitlin' circuit. The song boasted one of the most furious up-tempos heard since Little Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," and featured a new R&B singer with an interesting tenor, husky but tender.

But the vocal never quite made it into the foreground of "Drop." The relentless rhythm section and the otherworldly synth effects stole the spotlight, giving the record the feel of an instrumental.

"Coochie Whipped," the title track of the CD on which "Drop" appeared, was similarly rhythmic, although in a more straight-ahead, bluesy fashion. The Tillman vocal came enticingly closer to center stage in the arrangement. Close enough, at any rate, to whet the appetite of fans nurtured on singers whose influences this young vocalist had obviously absorbed: Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson and the early-Temptations' David Ruffin.

However, "Drop" and "Coochie Whipped" only hinted at the pleasures awaiting Southern Soul audiences when, later in the year, deejays began queuing up "I Found Love," again from the same Coochie Whipped disc.

Violins. Violins like out of Mantovani or Mancini. And then that unmistakable Motown tinkle, the xylophone-like keyboard cascades gracing so many Temptations and Miracles-produced classics. And then the voice, completely at home in this vintage soul setting--Robert "Duke" Tillman, singing his 21st century lungs out.

"Something good is happening
In my life.
I met me a real good woman.
She might even be my wife."

And. . .

"Every day is sunshine,
No matter how it rains.
All my nights I feel the joy,
Where there used to be pain."

There are few gratifications in soul music comparable to listening to a young artist with jaw-dropping talent singing a love ballad brimming with optimism. "I Found Love" fills that bill and then some. Robert "The Duke" Tillman possesses one of the finest voices in Southern Soul.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Robert "The Duke" Tillman

Considering the accessibility and sweetness of his vocal credentials, one would expect the work of Robert Tillman to have garnered instant popularity. Like his similarly overlooked peer, Billy "Soul" Bonds, Tillman released a couple of early-nineties' albums on Ace Records that introduced his work to an enthusiastic but limited audience of Southern Soul fans.

An Ace sampler titled America's Rhythm & Blues Hall Of Fame (Ace, 1992) featured two Tillman tracks, "Thinking Of You" and "L.O.V.E." By 1998 the young singer had joined fellow chitlin' circuit artists Rue Davis and Pat Brown at small-label Avanti Records, where for the first time his cover art added the appellation "The Duke".

Tillman's first genuine chitlin' circuit radio single, "Give Me Just One (More) Chance," highlighted his debut disc of the same title on Avanti in 1998. The respected Rue Davis composed many of the tunes.

However, 2001's Coochie Whipped on the 4 Eversduke label was a quantum leap forward, including not only the frenetically-paced "Drop" but a slew of beautiful ballads in the style of mid-sixties' Motown soul, most notably "I Found Love," "Baby Come See (About) Me" and "It's A Good Thang." On these ballads Tillman actually surpassed the quality of Al Green's post-"Let's Get Together" work, infusing his strong tenor-slash-falsetto with a grace and gentleness not heard since the heyday of Smokey Robinson.

In 2003 he moved to Waldoxy Records, bringing him closer to the nexus of the Southern Soul movement, with the CD Still Thinking. Popular radio singles from the LP included "Ain't That Loving You" and "Woman, Lover, Friend."

Still largely unknown outside the South, Robert "The Duke" Tillman is quickly becoming one of Southern Soul's young stars, headlining chitlin' circuit venues on a regular basis.


Song's Transcendent Moment

"But when I first saw her,
I could not believe my eyes,
That something so precious,
Could ever be mine."


Tidbits

1.

February 29, 2008. Everyone--well, everyone on the chitlin' circuit anyway--wants to know whatever happened to Robert "The Duke" Tillman. For sheer emotive vocal talent, this singer had few peers. And yet, there's been no new material for Tillman fans since 2003's Still Thinking--five long years ago as of this writing.

Indeed, in a commentary on Reggie P. and the difficulty of record-publishing last year (2007), your Daddy B. Nice described the plight of Tillman in this way:

" . . . And on the other hand, you have an immensely-talented vocalist, Robert "The Duke" Tillman, who since his big breakthrough a few years ago with the dazzling "I Found Love," has either chosen not to (or simply not had the means to) self-publish. Unable to 'buy' a record contract since, he has--artistically-speaking--withered on the vine."

The good news to report is that Robert "The Duke" Tillman has reappeared in public, and is alive and well. He's performed at not just a few but a number of publicized venues in and around Southern Soul's capital city--Jackson, Mississippi--over the last few months (the latter half of 2007).

No word on an upcoming new album as yet, but the renewed touring hints at something in the works.

DBN

P.S. Longtime Robert "The Duke" Tillman fans who are familiar with this page but want more to read about the artist would do well to check out the many entries under "Robert 'The Duke' Tillman" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index, including links to items and references to "The Duke" scattered throughout the pages of the website. DBN

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2.

January 1, 2010: Author's Forward

I was interested to see that after all these years without any recording activity Robert "The Duke" Tillman still receives headliner status (over such prolific no-longer newcomers such as Vick Allen) in the Delta, as evidenced by the upcoming concert--10 pm, Friday, January 15, 2010. Couples Entertainment Center, 4511 Byrd Drive, Jackson, Mississippi. Robert "The Duke" Tillman, Vick Allen. 601-500-0667--listed in Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar.

And every time he makes an appearance, the deejays in central Mississippi play "I Found Love," which I wish such would-be Southern Soul up-and comers as 100% Cotton, Billy Jones, Reggie Sears, Avail Hollywood and Pantheress would listen to in their sleep, so as to absorb more Southern Soul to inspire their still-too-hiphop-and-straight-blues-influenced musical offerings.

And. . . what a voice! Love live "The Duke"!"

--Daddy B. Nice

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If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Just My Imagination" or "Easy To Love (Hard To Forget)," you'll love Robert "The Duke" Tillman's "I Found Love."


Honorary "B" Side

"Drop"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Found Love by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
I Found Love


CD: Coochie Whipped
Label: 4 Eversduke

Sample or Buy
Coochie Whipped


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Drop by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Drop


CD: Coochie Whipped
Label: 4 Eversduke

Sample or Buy
Coochie Whipped


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy It's A Good Thang by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
It's A Good Thang


CD: Coochie Whipped
Label: 4 Eversduke

Sample or Buy
Coochie Whipped


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Ain't That Loving You by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Ain't That Loving You


CD: Still Thinking
Label: Waldoxy

Sample or Buy
Still Thinking


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Baby Come See Me by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Baby Come See Me


CD: Coochie Whipped
Label: 4 Eversduke

Sample or Buy
Coochie Whipped


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Woman, Lover, Friend by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Woman, Lover, Friend


CD: Still Thinking
Label: Waldoxy

Sample or Buy
Still Thinking


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Coochie Whipped by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Coochie Whipped


CD: Coochie Whipped
Label: Wilbe

Sample or Buy
Coochie Whipped


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Give Me Just One Chance by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Give Me Just One Chance


CD: Give Me Just One Chance
Label: Avanti



2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Still Thinking by Robert 'The Duke' Tillman
Still Thinking


CD: Still Thinking
Label: Waldoxy

Sample or Buy
Still Thinking


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