“I started at a very young age, traveling with my mom, who’s a gospel singer,” explained the American soul musician Curtis Harding
of how he began making music.
On trips across the country, touring the gospel circuit with his family, he experimented with gospel and rap but it was soul music’s direct emotional delivery that captivated him.
For the #GucciGig project which unites musicians with artists to create original works, photographer and drummer Matt Correia worked with the illustrator John Zabawa to create color-drenched 1960s-inspired posters that show Harding in profile rendered in purple and green—inspired by Curtis Harding’s music and style.
Two backstage passes to the #GucciGig performance are embossed with his name in groovy lettering. On an imagined album cover he wears oversized Gucci sunglasses made of black acetate embedded with crystals, presenting a fresh image of contemporary soul.
Curtis Harding’s sound draws on his own biography to make what he calls, “slop ‘n’ soul,” a funky mix of gospel, blues, psychedelia, R&B and rock. “Soul means so much,” he says. “When you see someone who has a lot of soul you can tell that they have experienced some stuff. And it plays into the way they dress, sit, move, and what they talk about. That’s what soul is to me.”
The first song he wrote was “a little love song about a girl that I liked.” The topic has become a constant theme for the Atlanta-based artist. In the music video for his recent single, “Need Your Love,” he turns our natural yearnings for love into an inclusive, upbeat anthem that speaks to many different kinds of love we experience. “Finding new ways to talk about love is always interesting and challenging to me,” he said.
Soul has not only influenced the sound on the musician's two studio albums — Soul Power (2014) and Face Your Fear (2017) — but also his sense of style. He counts the musicians Sly Stone, Bo Diddley, and his mom, who he recalls being partial to zebra print and making her own clothes, as his biggest style inspirations. “Style is everything,” he says. “Especially when it comes to anything that you do aesthetically or musically. The way you leave your mark, that’s ultimately your legacy.”
— Antwaun Sargent
‘Face Your Fear' — Curtis Harding