American music icon Bobby Osborne, at age 86, is still going strong and making new albums. Today NPR’s Jewly Hight summarizes Osborne’s career and writes about what he’s been up to lately.
Now, at 86, Bobby is long past the point when plenty of other singers lower the keys of their songs to accommodate their aging voices. He’s still singing just as high. His secret?
“I think drugs and alcohol and smoking,” he says, meaning that he does not do those things. “Oh, if I’d have been doing that, I couldn’t have carried a tune in a water bucket I don’t guess.”
Bobby’s voice impressed 26-year-old mandolinist Sierra Hull, one of the many guest performers on his latest album.
“It’s totally exciting to hear somebody that still has that kind of force with their vocal chops at 80 years old,” Hull says. “I mean, I think that would be the dream for most any of us if we can even just do it at all, let alone do it at that level.”
The album’s producer, Alison Brown, had Bobby tackle everything from classic country songs to Broadways tunes to hits by Elvis Presley and the Bee Gees.
“There was nothing I could suggest that he wouldn’t consider,” Brown says. “And if it wasn’t right, he said so. Bobby has always been an innovator and his wide openness to trying anything is still very much a part of his musical spirit and genius.”
It’s clear that Bobby enjoys being a bridge between past and present. He doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“People ask me now, ‘When you gonna quit?'” he says. “Why, they ask the wrong guy. I don’t intend to quit as long as I can do what I’m doing now. Now, if I get to where I can’t sing or can’t play or can’t think good or whatever, then I might have to. But I ain’t gonna quit ’til then.”
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