Like any living legend worth their salt, Fields has suffered despair, obscurity, defeat. Although he now tours stages around the world, and although he helped fellow soul legends like Sharon Jones (who was once Fields’ backup singer) and Charles Bradley (whom Fields took on his first tour) get their first break, he did not always have this position. There were years—they were known as “the 1980s”—when Fields nearly gave up. His success these days, then has a bittersweet tinge: His dear friends Bradley and Jones have both passed, leaving Fields to outlive them and carry their legacy forth.
With all these years, and all this life, comes a sort of divine wisdom, and Fields has it in spades. “I am a sinner, just like everybody else,” he says gravely. He is no “holier-than-thou guy,” he adds. He just believes in people’s ability to love and be loved, and he understands that music is the divine bridge to these places.