“My message for the youth, especially the creative youth is, keep love in your heart and know that the service that you do is not only needed it is oxygen! Because I truly believe that what I do and the people who do a similar thing, it’s more than entertainment. So for the young ones, love what you’re doing. Give it reverence because it’s bigger than you. Your service is bigger than who you think you are.” – Leon Ware
The Dood: Are there any artists that you saw or would have liked to have seen perform live when growing up?
Leon Ware: One of the only people I would have loved to have seen live is Nat King Cole. I’ve seen a lot of different groups growing up, from The Drifters to James Brown, The Ink Spots; but Nat King Cole is the one person I revere; I love his musical ability, and his life as a man was also highly respectable. This is why I long to have more of a connection with the public, especially with the book Safari Blue because it’s got such a wonderful meaning children. So I’m looking forward to that being a large part of my future activity.
The Dood: Expand more on Safari Blue; I believe it is a long-term project you’ve been working on?
Leon Ware: Safari Blue is something I’m very excited about. It’s a children’s book on CD that based on a character called Safari Blue. He comes from a planet called “Bluetonia”. And he comes to earth to teach children SB – Safari Blue (Self-Belief). Believing in yourself is worth every step in your journey; in other words each step in your journey should be in self belief because it will more than help you with all of the changes that you face. I’m extremely proud of it it, I’ve be working on it since my son was three years old. He’ll be thirty-nine on 22nd February, which means that is thirty-six years I’ve been working on it.
The Dood: It is indeed a lifetime project? (At this juncture Leon shows The Dood mock-ups of Safari Blue on his mobile phone) Wow! Who did the illustrations?
Leon Ware: A gentleman by the name of Leon Jolson – he’s Dutch. He’s a friend of the co-writer who lives in Paris and his name is Alex Nolent. It’s thirty-three pages long and I also did a vocal narration so that I can make an audio book… I have high feelings for it; I won’t say high anticipation, because I don’t want to anticipate with anything were this is concerned. This is a love journey; this is me giving fifty percent of whatever I make on this to children – children’s charities, children period! There are so many needy movements and charities around the world for children and mine will be adding to that.
The Dood: So is this the seven a half year old child inside of you speaking to the children?
Leon Ware: Exactly! Exactly! Because it makes it easy for me to be there; I know the joy of and the challenge of… So I’m looking forward to this touching as many young hearts and hearts like mine, seasoned but still very very young (Leon smiles gently) I’d say children of all ages. This
The Dood: What was Donny Hathaway like?
Leon Ware: I didn’t know Donny, I never Donny met him, not once. I would have loved to because it was such an honour for him to do the song.
The Dood: What is your association with Marcus Valle?
Leon Ware: Ah! Marcus and me! We’re due to do a tour together; we’ve talked about it for the last five years. I’ve done quite a bit of work with him. Marcus is very much like me. He actually has released quite a big song called “Summer Samba” (Leon Hums the melody)
He sounds like Jobim; I always kid him about that. I would say the top five writers of my life starts with Jobim – Jobim, Stevie (Wonder), McCartney, Bach, Beethoven, Ellington, Strayhorn, Cole Porter – I have a list of writers that I look up to.
The Dood: You mentioned Nat King Cole; do have any other favourite vocalists?
Leon Ware: My favourite artists are artists that are still my idols – Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Stevie (Wonder). I can say a few other artists, but those four artists… Nat to me is my idol. I also love good R’n’B; so the combination of Jazz and R’n’B is pretty much where I’ll probably live for my entirety… Something that most people don’t know is how much I love classical music. If I had had my way, around ten years old I would have liked to have known somebody that was in that world, because my world was never exposed to anybody like that. My love for classical music came around my mid-twenties, after my first couple of hits. I used to listen to music with an older lady. My preference is for piano; there are some pianists that I’m really attached to.
The Dood: “Inside My Love” was a duet performed by yourself and Minnie Ripperton. What was Minnie like to work with?
Leon Ware: Minnie was a mother to everybody.
The Dood: The track “Inside My Love” also has a strong air of double entendre – your thoughts please?
Leon Ware: Oh, everything is a double entendre! I don’t think I’ve ever written a song that didn’t have two or three meanings; because I figured that they’re always going to go for the meaning that sounds like the bedroom, even though I’ve explained to people that “Inside My Love” comes from the church. Me, being a little boy listening to the Pastor as we were leaving, the sermon’s over, and he stands in front of the pulpit and he put his arms out like this and he says, “Won’t you come? Won’t you come inside the Lord?” Yes it’s something that’s provocative, but also slightly spiritual… I had been sitting on that idea for several years. It was the right time because it was right when especially the male artist were starting to say lurid things on records; from Barry white, to myself, to Marvin, to Teddy Pendergrass… As I call it, we were in the panty removing business. And rightfully so, because I don’t know if those songs done anything else but help create more babies. (Chuckles)
The Dood: Do you write the same way now as you did when you first started?
Leon Ware: In answer to that I have never ever cloned myself. I don’t have a particular strategy. I insist on being the same person I had been at say eighteen… It’s a continuous road of being inspired by a moment, a place or whatever. I can do it from the melody, from a beat; I can do it from just the air. I’m glad I don’t need one particular thing to do what I do and I try to make it be as spontaneous as possible to each moment, because each moment is precious. If we could stop the clock for a moment, there are some moments which are just… (Leon snaps his fingers)
The Dood: I’m aware that you cycle every day when you’re home in LA. Have you heard of a Boris bike?
Leon Ware: Oh! I have not. I have three bikes; I am an avid biker. I bike and sometimes I workout in the gym more than I should; I’m in better shape than I look (laughs)
The Dood: Did you re-assess your health regime after you had a pancreatic scare in 2009?
Leon Ware: I’ve been working out pretty much religiously for about 30 years. It keeps the mind sharp and the older you get, the less this is (points to his brain). I use the analogy that we start with twelve lights from birth… But by the time you get to sixty, three of those lights blinking, when you get to seventy, one of them is out. (Laughs heartily)! By the time you get to eighty, three of them are gone! A friend of mine said many years ago, “As you age you’ve got to have a good sense of humour, and a long list of options!” (Leon speaks in a whisper, then laughs openly) It’s the option that you keep you alive! (Laughs again)
The Dood: Your final message for the ukvibe readership and the youth worldwide?
Leon Ware: My message for the youth, especially the creative youth is, keep love in your heart and know that the service that you do is not only needed it is oxygen! Because I truly believe that what I do and the people who do a similar thing, it’s more than entertainment. So for the young ones, love what you’re doing. Give it reverence because it’s bigger than you. Your service is bigger than who you think you are. Because the service itself is so greatly needed that me calling myself a “Sensual Minister” is to keep myself from being called something else… All of us have been called something other than what we are by other people.
The thing that I like is that I call myself a very simple guy who loves music. I don’t let anybody kiss my arse. In fact, if I see somebody that looks like they’re kissing my arse, I tell them to stop. I didn’t do it for that; I do it because I love all of you in this room, I love this every human that lives, I love everything! I am fortunately a human that hasn’t been jaded. I have not been jaded to the point where I have a reason for whoever it is I love – I love everybody! The thing that is fucked up is that I live in a world that does categorise who they love. They’re forgetting the one thing, the one thing my father said – he was also like me, he quit school – my father was a very bright man and he said, “The world will never see what is the simplest thing is to see, which is we all need each other.” Take all the clothes off, get rid of all the categories and everything, strip us butt naked; every human on this earth forgets how much we need each other.
We’re not taught right. I think in about three thousand or four thousand years from now, what I’m saying is going to be realised. I don’t think humans are smart enough to defeat themselves. I think they’re people who are scared about pushing the button, what do they call it – the annihilation button. Even if we do it I don’t think we’re going to kill each other. I have such an optimistic view about life and humans and what I am and what all of us are. We’re in an early stage of evolution. So I don’t think this is a discernible or equatable process. I don’t believe in any one thing I believe in everything.
Every religion on the planet I give reverence to, I respect; I don’t have a particular religion because I think most of them suck. They give reverence and they say God this and Jesus that, then they go to the drugstore to get the biggest bottle of alcohol or they go to the drugstore and get the heaviest drugs… There living lurid lives pursuing a thrill. It’s interesting that after a certain age, around about my age that people start looking for the Lord, or Jesus, or Christ in some form because they feel like now that I did the sinning or whatever in my past, that I can correct it by turning around and saying, “Okay God I’m eternally yours.”
The Dood: You’ve confessed to being a relatively introverted person up until the age of thirty. What initiated the change?
Leon Ware: After thirty, I became a little bit more…
The Dood: Overt?
Leon Ware: … I guess you can call it that. I definitely think you can call it that. I’m still reasonably very private even though I have what you may call celebrity. However, I appreciate the possibility of speaking to so many hearts, so the part of me that prefers to be in the background lives in me as brilliantly as ever, but a part of me knows that I have to speak to the world.
As far as where I’m at right now, I’m seventy-two, I’ll be seventy-three in about a week. I need another seventy-three years actually; I don’t think this seventy-three is enough. I think with – I won’t say have left – but the time I have in front of me we’ll see! I’m going to do as much as I can, stay as nasty as I am. I’ve been so loved by so many people for being the guy that I am, so I will continue to do more of the same. As I said to you earlier, as a human my hope is that I say something that’s useful.
The Dood: Well, I hope you keep rocking us eternally.
Leon Ware: I shall Michael. So I love that I do what I do for love, for no price. The price is air, oxygen, and I hope that I have a lot more time.
The Dood: What would you like to say to lovers of your music?
Leon Ware: Have a reverence for the love and be especially sensual. That’s from Mr Leon Ware, “Love’s Endless Servant.”
Michael J Edwards
A Big Mike and ukvibe thank you to Diane Dunkley from RM2 Music for arranging quality time with Mr Ware.