In 2014, Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls recorded their award-winning, critically acclaimed Soul Brothers album at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas. During the sessions, Otis recorded an a capella version of what he said was one of his favorite Gospel songs, “Mississippi Poor Boy,” more or less as a demo. It was a song the Canton Spirituals had recorded years ago. We were going to record the song later for a solo album which never was made due to Clay’s untimely death in January of this year.
When Johnny Rawls, bassist Bob Trenchard and guitarist Johnny McGee were working on demos for an upcoming LTD album, it was decided to find the song on the Soul Brothers drive and try to finish it. A day was spent at Sonic Ranch lining up the vocals in time and adding guitar, bass, a drum track and backgrounds. Janelle Thompson, a neo-soul artist, was at Sonic Ranch and was recruited to sing background vocals along with Johnny Rawls.
Otis’ version of “Mississippi Poor Boy” is stripped down, hard-blues, Gospel with his passionate voice out front. A Blues Hall of Fame member, who started out as a Gospel singer, Otis ends his recording career with the music that began it.