Coming from a family of musicians and performers, Eric Bibb started playing the guitar at age seven. After enrolling in an Ivy League school, he dropped out to pursue a life of music. Now, at 58, he has over 25 albums in circulation.
When trying to summarize the sound and career of an artist such with as much longevity as Eric Bibb, it may be best to use his own words: "Everywhere I go people ask me, what kind of music do you play? And I just say, gonna hear some blues, like a freight train rolling through, gospel, soul and some good ol' rock 'n' roll.... You can call me a troubadour."
An American based in London, who tours extensively around the world, Bibb is certainly a wandering singer. He values the genre-transcending nature of the troubadour as well as the charge to carry a message of love and peace.
Love is something Bibb sings of often. But for him, love is not simply the substance of romantic songs about star-crossed lovers. Bibb sings of a love as the antithesis of war. For Bibb, the gospel music he writes is not just singing praises to God, it is a call to unity. As he sings in “A Ship Called Love,” “Give up our national identity if were going to make a go at world peace.”
Bibb consistently looks to the “Divine Intelligence” to guide his music. But this is not a one-way street. As Bibb states, “All that I am seeking is seeking me.” His music feels missional and his performances feel charged with purpose and hope. This troubadour travels from place to place because he feels this is why he is on this planet. Bibb is functioning out a calling placed on his life.
There is a layer to experiencing Bibb’s music that can only be captured through a live performance. Central to the essence of the troubadour is locality. Physical presence is part of the nature of the message of love and hope. This may be why Bibb is heralded as such a wonderful live performer. He understands that the quality of the performance has interplay with his message. One critic describes his playing by saying, “Never showy, his guitar and occasionally harp are given to us to listen to, mull over and accept. His voice takes on the same timbre as his guitar, restrained yet powerful, in control but with a maelstrom of power and intensity living behind it.”
With Booker’s Guitar dropping on Jan. 26, Bibb will arrive at the Ladies Literary Club with another solid addition to his library of songs. We will have the chance to hear firsthand the stories that Booker’s guitar has to tell. They will, no doubt, be stories of love, peace, pain and hope.
- Eric Kuiper