My dear friend, Calvin Newborn
Flying
Calvin
This picture of "Flying Calvin" was used as  a logo
for the Smithsonian Institute's Rock and Soul
Exhibit for several years, until it came to Memphis,  
The first night the Rock and Soul Museum opened
in Memphis, Calvin's picture hung in the front of
the museum.  The next day they replaced it with a
picture of Elvis.  Calvin and Elvis had been friends
as they grew up in Memphis, in fact, Calvin will tell
you that "Elvis stole my moves."  Elvis used to
come into the Plantation Inn, in West Memphis,
Arkansas, where the Finas Newborn Orchestra was
playing.  They played there 1948-1952.  He would
come in every Wednesday and Friday night to
watch Calvin as he slid across the floor on his
knees, jumped in the air, "flying," and danced
around the stage as he played.  Around 1951,
Finas's orchestra was playing at the Flamingo
Room, in Memphis, near Beale Street, where they
had battles of the blues every night to see who was
the best guitar player.  Calvin battled with Pee-Wee
Clayton, and anybody else who thought they could
play a guitar. Calvin always won, outplaying
Pee-Wee for two weeks, and he was crowned
"King of the After Hours Blues" playing to a packed
house every night.  Pee-Wee went back to Texas,
defeated.

One night Elvis came in and Finas told Calvin to
give Elvis his guitar, so he could play.  When Elvis
played, he broke all the strings on Calvin's guitar,
because when he felt Finas' drum beat driving him,
he started strumming hard and fast, and so, Rock
'n' Roll began.  Elvis won the battle, because Calvin
had no strings on his guitar and did not get a chance
to play, and Elvis crowned himself the "King of
Rock 'n' Roll."  

Somewhat like Mozart and Scolieri, Elvis got all the
glory, while Calvin just kept on playing great music.
 As I remind him from time to time, Elvis had the
glory, but you are still alive and still making music,
and everyone who hears you play is blessed by your
talent, your genius, and your spirit.
For more about the life and times of Calvin
Newborn, you can purchase his books

1)         As Quiet As It's Kept / The Genius
            of Phineas Newborn, Jr.

2)         How The King Won The Battle of  
            The Blues With Rock 'n' Roll.

Check out his myspace:
www.myspace.com/newbornblues

To find out about Calvin's latest album,
click on the link below to go to Yellow
Dog Records:

Calvin Newborn
When I came to Memphis in July of 1998, I met Calvin Newborn.  He was performing at Huey's on Union Avenue in downtown
Memphis.  He had a hot jazz trio with Tony Thomas on the keyboards and  
Tom Lonardo  on drums.  He started to play a song
that I immediately recognized - "Centerpiece" - but had not heard it except when I sang with Neil LeGrande and his jazz band
back in Portland, Oregon in 1977.  As he played, Calvin said, "I bet nobody knows the words to this song."  I sang them out,
and from that moment a friendship began.  What I didn't know at the time was that "Centerpiece" was a song that Calvin had
recorded with Hank Crawford and it was one of their biggest hits.  

In November of 1998, Calvin's cd "Up City" was nominated for a Memphis Area Music Award.  When he came out to perform
at the ceremony, I was so inspired, that the next night I came in to hear Calvin play at The King's Palace, with Charlie Wood and
Renardo Ward.  I wrote a poem while listening to the music and thinking back on how I felt when Calvin came out on stage and
his music filled the room.  I showed him the poem and he said, "That's cool....just like jazz.  Would you give me a copy?"  When
I went back to my office on Beale Street to type out the words of the poem, the music came to me, along with a vision of how
the song should be performed.  Calvin had given me a transcript of a play he had written about his and Phineas' careers in Jazz -
from Beale Street to the "jazz mountaintop" on Broadway.  I could see this song being sung by the female lead character as the
final scene in the play.....a dark stage.....just a pin spotlight on her......Calvin off to the side playing his guitar....and she sings this
song about his greatness.  I came back to him 7 days later with a recorded version of the song.  I called it "Flying" in honor of
Flying Calvin, and because his music makes my spirit soar.   I told him it was a gift from spirit that came through me - a
message to let him know that even though his cd did not win the award, his very presence there was an inspiration to all - and I
told him that he would know exactly what to do with the song.  Two weeks later he came back to me with a revised manuscript
of his play.  He said, "Turn to the last page and let me know what you think about it."  When I saw it, I was so moved.  I had
not said a word to him about my vision, and there it was - with the lady singing "Flying" and Calvin off to the side, playing his
guitar.  It was the finale.  Spirit works in the most wondrous ways.  To hear Flying, click on this link:  
"Flying"

Calvin and I performed on New Year's Eve, 2000, at The Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street, and continued to perform together
until 2004, at Huey's , and various clubs in Memphis and surrounding areas until July 2004, when he moved to Jacksonville,
Florida.  We are still in constant communication and our friendship continues.  
Visit Calvin's website at
www.myspace.com/newbornblues
Calvin Newborn
Ponderosa Stomp
Blues Bytes
All About Jazz
Now Playing:

"Love Is"

Music by Phineas Newborn
Words by Calvin Newborn

Performed by:

Guitar:  Calvin Newborn
Organ:  Tony Thomas
Drums:  Tom Lonardo
Vocals:  Soriana
Soriana and Calvin at
Rum Boogie on Beale
Street on New Year's
Eve 1999 (Millenium)
<===
Calvin at Huey's in
Memphis - with Charles
Johnson and Jeff Gray on
drums.  
Another day at Huey's in downtown Memphis.  
Jeff on drums, and Errol Thomas on bass.
Soriana as guest vocalist & photographer.
July 2002 - Calvin at Cooper Young Deli in
Midtown Memphis. Calvin was accompanying
Gatemouth Moore, and playing some of his own
original tunes for the filming of "The Road To
Memphis."  The Road To Memphis is a
documentary directed by Richard Pearce. The film
follows the career of Blues musician B.B. King. It
features performances by B.B. King, Bobby Rush,
Rosco Gordon and Ike Turner, as well as historical
footage of Howlin' Wolf and Rufus Thomas,
Gatemouth Moore, Calvin Newborn.  Rosco
Gordon died a few months after the filming.

Said Pearce: "The Blues is a chance to celebrate one
of the last truly indigenous American art forms,
before it all but disappears, swallowed whole by
the rock and roll generation it spawned. Hopefully
we'll get there before it's too late."

The film is part of The Blues, a seven part series,
with Martin Scorsese acting as executive producer.
Soriana & Calvin
performing at Huey's in
downtown Memphis in
2002.  They made
numerous appearances at
Hueys in 2000, 2001,
2002, 2003 and at Calvin's
final performance in
Memphis, Tennessee
before he moved to
Jacksonville, Florida in
July 2004.
Calvin performing at
the Smooth Jazz
Festival in 2002.  
Soriana was the
photographer and
videographer.  
Flying on You Tube
Click
on the link below
to see the video
of the song I wrote
for Calvin,
"FLYING"
on YouTube.