The Word Returns! Medeski, Randolph and NMAS Reunite For ‘Soul Food’

The Word

Fourteen years after releasing their self-titled album, The Word reconvenes for Part II of their adventure, with the release SOUL FOOD.  Recorded in both New York and Memphis, SOUL FOOD will be available on May 5th and marks the supergroup’s Vanguard label debut.  The new 12 track album features guest vocalists Amy Helm and Ruthie Foster on two of the songs.

In 2001, keyboardist John Medeski, pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, and the three members of the North Mississippi Allstars: guitarist Luther Dickinson, drummer Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew, went into a recording studio and over the next three days birthed a new band called The Word. Based on deep-felt gospel music and a huge respect for musical improvisation, the quintet weren’t sure what the results would be, but had the faith they were creating something that would last. Their self-titled debut album became a burning word-of-mouth favorite, and their live shows from that period are still being talked about today.

A lot has happened since 2001, and in many ways it feels like fate inspired the five musicians to reform and take a new giant step into the future. Each member believes The Word is a unique aggregation that has a life all its own, and that 2015 is the perfect time to bring it back to the world. The members all have other groups that are their primary pursuit, but The Word, when it calls, demands full attention. In the summer of 2014, The Word called and each musician felt it in their soul to listen. Plans were made for recordings to start in New York and when those went so well, the sessions continued in Memphis in the fall at Royal Studio, where Willie Mitchell had recorded so many classic songs with Al Green, Ann Peebles, Otis Clay and others. That Memphis experience brought The Word full circle. Luther Dickinson comments, “The recording locations of New York City and Memphis represent who The Word is. The spirit of each city, different though they might be each sets us free. And fourteen years after our first album, it is so thrilling to hear what our collective power for improvisation has become. We’re ready to go anywhere the inspiration takes us.”

Their second album, naturally entitled SOUL FOOD for the nourishment it provides to all their spirits, brings the music of the band all the way home.

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Top photo by Andrew Bruss

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