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5 Questions for Gary Clark, Jr. on New EP, 'Bright Lights'

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Gary Clark, Jr. is being hailed as the new face of blues music.

At just 27, he’s has already shared the stage with blues legends like B.B. King and Buddy Guy. Playing the blues with a little bit of R&B, hip hop and jazz, Gary is readying to change the way a younger audience perceives the blues with his debut EP, “Bright Lights” (out Aug 9th).

The Texas native recently paid a visit to the ESSENCE.com offices, and blew our minds. Find out a little bit more about him.

ESSENCE.com: Can you tell us about your EP, “Bright Lights”?

GARY CLARK, Jr.: It’s kind of a little taste of everything that I do.  I’m gonna do a little blues, a little rock and rock and a little soul.

ESSENCE.com: Why do an EP instead of a full album?
GARY: I wanted to take time with the album, and throw a little taste out there to let people now where I’m going. We’re in the process of doing the album, and I think it’s sounding pretty good.  [laughs]

ESSENCE.com: So there’s a lot of buzz about you. Who are you? Where are you from?
GARY: My name is Garry Clark, Jr. and I’m from Austin, Texas. I’ve been around on the scene for a minute. Basically what happened is I played Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival with like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and all these great guitar festival. Some folks from my record label were there so we just kinda spoke from there.  

ESSENCE.com: Who are your biggest influences?
GARY: Marvin Gaye is a huge one. Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and a lot of blues cats who aren’t around anymore.

ESSENCE.com: You’re being called a neo-blues artist. Are you comfortable with that title?
GARY: Categories freak me out, because then that’s all you’re expecting. What I’d say I’m doing is the roots of African-American music – blues and jazz. From that comes soul music, funk, hip hop. I listen to all that stuff. I mean, I won’t be spitting any bars any time soon, but I try to put all that together. I had this young cat tell me, ‘Man, Black people don’t play blues.” That freaked me out. It’s the roots of African-American music, and yet there aren’t that many young Black men playing it. [laughs] I’m a minority in my genre.  

Find out more about Gary Clark's music, here.

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