Consequence Podcast Network and Sony’s The Opus podcast is back for a soulful Season 14. Premiering on May 13th, host Jill Hopkins will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bill Withers’ landmark debut, Just as I Am, by exploring the album’s stories and legacy.
While recording demo tapes on his own dime or performing at small clubs at night, Withers worked on assembly lines at companies like Ford and Douglas Aircraft. Even after he was finally signed to a label — Sussex Records, in 1970 — he kept his day job. That’s him at Weber Aircraft, lunch pail in hand, on the cover of Just as I Am. But after entering the studio with legendary producer Booker T. Jones and a band including Stephen Stills on guitar, Jim Keltner and Al Jackson Jr. on drums, and bassists Donald “Duck” Dunn and Chris Ethridge, everything would change.
Withers’ 1971 debut produced eternal classics like “Aint No Sunshine” and Grandma’s Hands”, cementing the then-33-year-old as a working-man’s soul icon. With insights from contributors to the album itself and modern students of its sounds — including José James, Phil Cook, Aloe Blacc, Jon Batiste, and Rolling Stone journalist Andy Green — The Opus will examine why everyone’s still talkin’ about Just as I Am.
“Bill Withers has been called the ‘Last African- American Everyman,'” says host Hopkins, “and on his 1971 debut album, his ability to speak to the people and for the people was fully on display. I’m looking forward to sharing the stories behind his stories with our listeners.”
The first episode of The Opus: Just as I Am debuts on Thursday, May 13th. Make sure to subscribe now so you can keep up on all the new episodes, and prepare by streaming Bill Withers’ Just as I Am via your favorite music service. You can also grab yourself an official Opus hoodie or T-Shirt.
In addition, we’re celebrating the new season by giving away an exclusive Withers prize pack, which includes vinyl, a turntable, and a Sony sound system. (Note: If you’re having trouble seeing the widget, enter here.)