He was 81. Withers died as the coronavirus was spreading across the country and people were in quarantine. Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) is a writer from the east side of Columbus, Ohio. Canadian artists come together in ‘Lean on Me’ cover for coronavirus relief. Bill Withers, a three-time Grammy Award winning artist, died Monday at the age of 81, and I wanted to see him alive again. His latest book is “A Fortune For Your Disaster.”. The version that sends me running to my phone to call someone I miss, just to hear their voice. If there is a mythology of Withers it is one of the working everyday man. In conjunction with Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble, ArtistsCAN’s rendition of Lean On Me was released as a charity single to raise funds for the Canadian Red Cross’s COVID-19 initiatives. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. In this moment of isolation, I wanted to see him alive again. 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Legendary singer Bill Withers dies 03:44 Legendary soul artist Bill Withers has died from heart complications, his family confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press. And because even my friends who aren’t miles away feel miles away. His read “#CanadaStrong” and “#NovaScotiaStrong,” acknowledging the horrific shooting that took place in Portapique, N.S., on April 18 and 19. Bill Withers, 'Lean on Me' and 'Ain't No Sunshine' Singer, Dies of Heart Complications at 81 this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. Please read our Commenting Policy first. On putting together ArtistsCAN, Shaw, 27, said: “When I heard of Bill Withers’ passing, I was listening to all his legendary music and I really dove into the lyrics of Lean On Me — a song I’ve heard hundreds of times. Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.” Withers was born July 4th, 1938, and grew up in Slab Fork, West Virginia, in the final years of the Great Depression. I notice how at the end of the BBC performance, seconds after Withers flicks the final note on “Harlem,” the set’s closing song, he barely waits for the audience to clap. The three-time Grammy Award winner, who withdrew from making music in the mid-1980s, died on Monday in Los Angeles, his family said. Here are some things you need to know: Health officials caution against all international travel. – Mar 12, 2020, 13 ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protestors charged after another demonstration at Hamilton city hall, B.C. Bill Withers, the legendary performer who delivered timeless hits like "Ain't No Sunshine" with silky yet funkified vocals and came to define 1970s soul, has died. He refused to quit his job at Weber Aircraft, even after he got signed to Sussex Records in 1970. And he had enough of a life before music to know how to walk away from it when he’d had enough. Some people can develop a more severe illness. Get a roundup of the most important and intriguing national stories delivered to your inbox every weekday. Ron DeSantis spars with CNN reporter over state's COVID-19 … The three-time Grammy winner — who is survived by … There’s a healthy chance you too will find yourself nodding along or whispering the signature, circular moan of “I know, I know, I know” employed in “Ain’t No Sunshine.” A moment which, to me, has never sounded like anguish, but what comes after anguish — the understanding that this heartbreak is just one in an ever-growing tapestry of them. In this story, there is no romantic mythology of a childhood prodigy, or someone who blew the roof off a church in a small town before being driven off in a Cadillac to go make hit records. Even before a pandemic caused this endless ache for the community of the outside world; before the puddles on my city block no longer reflected the buzzy lights from open shops at night; and before I spoke to everyone I loved through a parade of various screens (“Zooms,” “Hangouts,” “FaceTimes”), I had gotten in the habit of watching old concert videos in the mornings. He was the first man in his family to not work in the coal mines of West Virginia. This version has always been the version I return to. Bill Withers was suffering from a heart condition ... Withers passed away on Monday in Los Angeles at a time when his songs have been a source of inspiration amid the coronavirus epidemic. I know when that BBC camera zooms in on Withers while he sings “Lean On Me,” it looks, briefly, like he’s crossed over from pain to gratitude. What’s cancelled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic? Here are some tips. But the recording of this BBC set, extant via YouTube, cuts straight to the meat of the Withers catalog. BILL WITHERS has died aged 81 following heart complications. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. Artwork cover for the ArtistsCAN ‘Lean On Me’ cover for COVID-19 relief efforts. He hops out of his chair and walks into the all-consuming darkness offstage, as if despite the applause and newfound fame he couldn’t wait to get gone. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities. I know it has rained so much this spring that I couldn’t go outside most days even if I wanted to. So this is a way to help because by just streaming the song, or watching the video, the proceeds go directly to the Canadian Red Cross to help fight this virus.”. But his loss, coming at … There are undoubtedly better, more sprawling and inclusive performances from Withers during this era: His famed concert at Carnegie Hall, for instance, covers more ground, and is more elaborate. Your musical legacy lives on through us.”. Withers, in both formal interviews and informally recorded banter, could sometimes be crass, even abrasive, but rarely was he oversentimental. April 2020. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. I know I’ll miss Bill Withers, even though I know I’d been missing him for most of my life. As a final musical treat during Sunday evening’s all-Canadian charity TV special Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble, more than two dozen artists — old and new — banded together for a virtual ensemble of the late Bill Withers‘ Lean On Me. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com. Sign up here. He was 81. We are grateful to lean on music during our time of need. The 1972 soul classic was not only covered by the likes of Canuck legends Avril Lavigne and Michael Bublé but Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan and a heavily autotuned Justin Bieber, too. Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including “ Lean on Me, ” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” has died from heart complications, his family said in a statement to The Associated Press. Withers died Monday at 81 of what his family has described as "heart complications." Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. © 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. (L-R) Canadian musicians Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne and Justin Bieber. And yet, with the loss of Withers, I’m grieving anew. In 1985, he became fed up with white record executives trying to tell him how and what to sing, or how to promote his album. By the time he plays “Grandma’s Hands,” the plodding of his guitar becomes a transportation device, and viewers — in that audience in ’73 or watching from home now — are in church with clapping grandmothers. Bill Withers in Beverley Hills, Calif., in 2015. The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. What I have always lamented about Bill Withers is that he often isn’t included in the mainstream pantheon of the Great Black Soul Singers. Avril Lavigne re-records ‘Warrior’ in honour of coronavirus front-line workers. Want to discuss? While trying to get his music career off the ground, he worked in various factories, doing assembly work, saving money to record his own demo tapes. Bill Withers, known for writing and singing enduring hit songs from the 1970s such as "Lean on Me," "Lovely Day" and "Ain't No Sunshine," died from heart complications at age 81 in April. https://www.tmz.com/2020/04/03/bill-withers-dead-dies-at-81-lean-on-me In the smoothest transition of the performance, Withers takes a breath after ending “Grandma’s Hands.” Looking down for a second, before devilishly looking back up with a half-grin and saying, “Usually after that point in your life, the ladies that you meet might have a whole other kind of use for you;” launching into the slithering funk of “Use Me.”. For this, the sentimental moments within his music feel more vulnerable and float above the emptiness of the feel-good machinery within so much of the celebrity-media industrial complex — the mutually assured sanitized reproduction of life. “In this current climate, the lyrics seem more profound than ever. For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here. READ MORE: He was 81 years old. Details on how to donate to the Canadian Red Cross can be found here. ArtistsCAN’s Lean On Me Canadian charity single is now available through all major streaming platforms. “We know there a lot of people who are struggling, who have lost their jobs, who can’t financially contribute. Mr. Abdurraqib is a poet and cultural critic. Norway warns of vaccination side-effects, deaths in some patients over 80, Trump preparing to issue over 100 pardons, commutations on Tuesday: source. The singer is resigned, having endured enough to know that endurance is often rewarded with fresh upsets to endure. And it’s the version that sits with an exceptionally heavy weight on me now, because Bill Withers is gone. The Leon On Me singer, who also wrote Lovely Day and Ain't No Sunshine, passed away … He didn’t release any new music for the last 35 years of his life. Coronavirus, Masks, Bill Withers: Your Friday Evening Briefing ... for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans wear face masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus… So I did, pulling up a YouTube video of him playing live in concert for the BBC in 1973. Today, in hearing Bill Withers sing “If there is a load you have to bear / That you can’t carry / I’m right up the road / I’ll share your load,” it feels like an entire universe of grief is colliding. The three-time Grammy Award winning artist has died. He began adulthood in the military, joining in 1956 at age 17, before moving to Los Angeles in 1967. Perhaps that’s because of his unconventional path to musical success. “Thank you first responders,” read a number of signs, which paid homage to the front-line health-care workers fighting the novel coronavirus across not just Canada but the rest of the globe, too. Sometimes stumbling over his words a bit on the path to saying to something heartwarming, or brilliant. Bill Withers’s ‘Lean on Me’ Has Been a Constant Comfort Through the Coronavirus Zoe Haylock 4/4/2020 Florida Gov. What a gift, to be able to put it so magically, and so memorably. Withers was known for his earnest delivery of music and lyrics that spoke to millions across the decades. Others, like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys (portrayed by Mike Smith), were seen holding pieces of paper with messages to the country. the first man in his family to not work in the coal mines of West Virginia. And I did. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/opinion/bill-withers-coronavirus.html Bill Withers, who died this past week, and John Prine, now hospitalized with COVID-19, rose from working-class roots to become touchstone singer-songwriters. https://heavy.com/entertainment/2020/04/bill-withers-cause-of-death Entertainment https://globalnews.ca/news/6871779/lean-on-me-charity-cover-coronavirus-relief The collective artist initiative, known officially as ArtistsCAN, was organized and set up by Juno Award-nominated singer-songwriters Tyler Shaw and Fefe Dobson. Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Ain't No Sunshine, has died from heart complications. The cover was accompanied by a heartfelt music video featuring all who contributed to it, including Jann Arden, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Command Sisters, Johnny Orlando and former Rush frontman Geddy Lee. As both a celebration of timeless human brilliance and a reminder of its limits, our fascinating mortality. US soul singer Bill Withers, who was behind a string of hits in the 1970s including Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine, has died from heart complications aged 81. Bill Withers, ‘Lean on Me,’ ‘Lovely Day’ singer, dies at 81 His family said in a statement that the three-time Grammy Award winner died on Monday in Los Angeles. An audience to the joyful slapping of tambourines and the maternal, stern warnings evoked in the song all at once. It began sometime late last year, with my desire to see aging artists as they once were — the ones who could no longer dance or slide across a stage as they could in their younger days. Canadian superstars like environmental activist David Suzuki and broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos were seen throughout the video. These parts glow because of how comfortable Withers grows with speaking as the show goes on — with a voice that sounds, even back then, like a patient and anxious but wise elder you or I have known. Bill Withers in Beverley Hills, Calif., in 2015.Credit...Jake Michaels for The New York Times. Sometimes shyly rambling. Life as a marathon of losses, loves that might never return. Withers kept working, installing toilet seats for commercial airplanes. bigfoot hunters say reported sighting was actually a moose, Lost B.C. I wanted to cover it; I wanted to help.”, “ArtistsCAN is true artist-to-artist connection,” said Dobson, 35. Earlier this month, the two enlisted the massive, star-studded roster of Canadian musicians to record Lean On Me from the comfort of their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. health officials to provide live COVID-19 update on Monday, ‘To my dear friend Gabriel Wortman’: How the Nova Scotia killer got his guns and wealth, Biden plans to block Keystone XL pipeline with day 1 order, documents show, Close Trump allies behind rally that sparked U.S. Capitol riot: records, Canada OKs troubled Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets to resume service this week, B.C. Because this performance took place in a cozy setting, in front of an intimate audience, its magic is not only in the songs themselves, but also in the way Withers fills the silence before each song. https://www.stanthonysfoundation.org/CoronavirusResponseCover of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" featuring Dr. Jamii St. Julien. His death has not been linked to the Covid-19 virus. READ MORE: Bill Withers, famed ‘Lean On Me’ singer-songwriter, dies at 81. Questions about COVID-19? Bill Withers during the photo session for his 1974 album, “+‘Justments,” where he wrote on glass the meaning of the title. Near the end of the 1973 BBC concert, Withers shifts from his guitar over to a piano to play a singular rendition of “Lean On Me,” his ode to the selfless and shared duty of friendship, written after he moved to Los Angeles and longed for everyone he loved back in West Virginia. ‘Stronger Together’ — Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Michael Bublé and more unite for Canadian coronavirus special, The emotional video began with a message for the “late, great Bill Withers.”, It read: “Thank you for your lyrics and inspiring message. It opens, immediately, with “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Just Withers plucking guitar strings with his thumb, while minimalist bass and percussion grow at his back. His debut album “Just As I Am,” was released that next year, and on its cover, there is Withers, 32, leaning on a wall outside Weber Aircraft, lunchbox in hand. Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me’ Is a Song for Every Crisis — Especially This One From earthquakes to hurricanes to COVID-19, singer’s 1972 single remains an anthem of togetherness and resilience Mike Smith (Bubbles) of the ‘Trailer Park Boys’ in ArtistsCAN’s ‘Lean On Me’ charity video for the Canadian Red Cross’s COVID-19 relief efforts on April 26, 2020. To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. READ MORE: In one of those heartwarming bits of insight, he humbly talks to the audience about how it’s “fun to be traveling from one large city to another large city all over the world.” But that for a small town West Virginian like him, “When you first come to a very large place you feel a little odd.” Before finding out that knowing all “800 people” in your town leaves you, “maybe,” much better off than being in a place with “eight million people and you didn’t really know anybody.” Then, after a half-pause, he starts up “Lonely Town Lonely Street.”. At least in this song, Withers was a cynic, as I am sometimes. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate. I know there is more than enough grief in today’s world to fill all of our glasses today, tomorrow and the next day. 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