The first time I heard Oscar Brown Jr. was an LP called Sin & Soul. I just liked the name, and I had sort of heard about it. It was very, very popular, and rightly so, because it was a great, great record. What I loved about the record is that the message was so strong. There were so many social issues going on. All of these songs were so ahead of their time, and I was used to hearing and singing the Cole Porters—which are great tunes, don’t get me wrong—but Oscar Brown Jr. came out with this stuff and it was just mind-blowing to me. I said, “Oh, my God, this man is a genius.”
What I loved about Oscar is that he never, ever sold out in any way. I think a long time ago, when that record first came out, [the industry] could have pushed him into another area or into another category because he was so good.