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Howard Tate Resurrects His Soul Roots

Vocalist Howard Tate at the beginning of his career.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Vocalist Howard Tate at the beginning of his career.

Howard Tate has a voice to be reckoned with. In the 1960s, he sang soul music that was as cool as lemonade and as hot as a deep fryer. Elvis Costello once dubbed him "the missing link between Jackie Wilson and Al Green." In the late 1970s, after making three stellar albums, Tate left the music business. His absence led some to assume that he'd lost his battle with addiction and homelessness, but he has since reappeared in a big way.

Tate says that his latest album, Blue Day, is the one he's wanted to make for three decades.

"This album took me back to my roots," he says. "It took me back where I belong. I'm just thrilled over this album."

The songs on the album, written mostly by producer Jon Tiven, appealed to Tate because of his past struggles. One song in particular, "Miss Behive," cautions young musicians like Amy Winehouse about becoming a victim of success.

Tate says that his own career fell victim to a series of failures: failure to be paid, failure of records to sell.

"Back in the day, we just didn't get paid — at least black artists didn't get paid," he says. "We had no protection, and who knows what happened to the money along the way?"

After years of struggle, Tate became a preacher and drug counselor. Today, he credits his stability to God and says he wants to use his music career to share his success story with others.

"When I was on the drugs and homeless, I never thought I could recover from that," Tate says. "It was the fight of my life. I was so thrilled and happy when God set me free from being a drug addict, and I wanted to share that with those out there suffering. They need to know there's hope, and the hope lies in God. That's why I decided to come back."

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