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‘Catalyst Sessions’ recap: John Capouya

Bill DeYoung



John Capouya

For anyone with an interest in the history of R&B (rhythm and blues music), John Capouya’s book Florida Soul is a treasure trove of detail, insight and unexpected “how cool is that?” moments.

Subtitled From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band, it takes a backstage tour of the second half of the 20th century (and beyond), when Black artists and record-creators lived and worked in a busily creative world that was almost a parallel universe to their white counterparts.

And when the worlds came together, everyone benefitted.

Wednesday on The Catalyst Sessions, Capouya – a writing teacher at the University of Florida – discussed the great artists in his book (he spoke to many of those who are still with us), and traced Florida’s (numerous) contributions to what some still refer to as soul music.

Capouya talked about his exposure to, and immersion in, Black music while growing up in the New York/New Jersey area. And when he relocated to Florida, in 2008, he discovered that Ray Charles – the greatest soul singer of them all – spent his formative years in the Sunshine State, paying his dues and learning to become a professional musician.

And, he learned, that Hank Ballard most likely wrote “The Twist” after discovering a group of girls doing said dance on Central Avenue in Tampa.

Callender and Cowley.

Today on The Catalyst Sessions: Playwright Sheila Cowley and director L. Peter Callender discuss their upcoming virtual production of Cowley’s Flying for the Tampa Repertory Theatre.

Streaming at 7 p.m. weekdays on the Catalyst Facebook page. All episodes are archived on our YouTube page.



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