“I was born and raised in Mississippi,” offers legendary blues guitarist Theodis Ealey as he strummed a beautiful tune in preparation for the teaser performance at rolling out’s Atlanta headquarters.
It would be the second chance this writer had the opportunity to hear him perform live. At a Christmas Eve party, I had the good fortune to hear him perform his hit, “Stand Up In It,” a laugh out loud lesson on sexual intimacy and reciprocity. It was such an entertainingly explicit performance that it left the ladies in awe and men slapping high-fives. He sang:
Now this old lady told me a story a long time ago. … She said Theodis you need to know/ That you can lick it/And you can stroke it/And you can kiss it/And you can eat it/But you ain’t done a doggone thing until you stand up in it.
I thought, out loud, “What a convincing cover of that song.” It wasn’t until Ealey left the party that I realized he was actually the bluesy soul crooner Theodis Ealey. Needless to say, it took a week to track him down for this interview. Read what he has to say.
You’re originally from Mississippi, how did you end up in Atlanta?
I was in the Air Force and ended up in Oakland where I met my soul mate, my wife Linda. She was a offered job here in Atlanta, so we decided to move South. I looked for a record deal all my life. Two months after we moved to Atlanta, I got a call from Ichiban Records. They heard me play at Blind Willie’s. It was my very first deal. We thought the move was just for my wife but the universe and the powers-that-be [were] looking out for me too. That was in 1991.
How did Linda become your backup singer?
She loves to sing, especially gospel music. She was in the church choir in Oakland at First Morning Star Baptist Church. When I recorded “Stand Up In It” in my friend Bruce’s studio, he asked if Linda could sing. I said ‘yes’ she could. She went into the booth and sang the chorus, over and again, he dubbed her voice. The record was released and did really well. After that, I asked her to perform when a keyboardist didn’t show up for a performance. Ever since, she’s been performing with the band. I asked her to sing background with me as long as she was having fun. That was in 2004. She’s been having fun since then.
How did you come up with that racy banger, “Stand Up In It”?
If you listen to the song, I tell you that a little old lady gave me a lesson. A lot of people believe I am supposed to be a magnificent lover because I made the single, “Stand Up In It.” Ever since I was a child, I hung out with older guys who always said, they “stood up in it.” I always had an idea to make this song, it wasn’t until I had conversations with a few women did I decided to make the single to empower women and educate men. I was also inspired by Marvin Sease’s “Candy Licker” and my song “I’m the Man You Need.”
What is the name of your latest project?
You and I Together and it features a title hit as well as the single “Theodis, What’s Up aka Shut the Puck Up.”
Experience him for yourself at the 11th annual Atlanta Blues Festival Featuring Theodis Ealey, Mel Waiters, Shirley Brown, Latimore, and Sir Charles Jones. Friday, March 27, 2015, at 8 pm Fox Theatre 660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, Ga. 30308