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The Smooth Late Show with Martin Collins 10pm - 1am
13 August 2021, 12:07
It had been a long time since soul legend Bill Withers had appeared on stage before he joined Stevie Wonder at the Roll & Roll Hall Of Fame.
In fact, in was the best part of four decades since he had retired from writing, recording, and performing music entirely.
That's why it was even more of a surprise that Withers returned to the spotlight for his induction to the Roll & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015.
Stevie pays tribute to one of his idol's and inspirations in the most flattering way possible, by singing Withers' most famous song 'Ain't No Sunshine' back to him in front of an adoring crowd.
In a performance that feels even more poignant now since Bill Withers passed away in 2020, he sweetly sits by Stevie's side, watching in awe.
And it's difficult not to, given that Stevie Wonder performs Bill's signature song with the trademark passion and spine-tingling soul you'd come to expect.
Stevie was himself 65 at the time of the performance, and it makes you really wonder if his timeless voice will ever diminish.
Despite 'Ain't No Sunshine' being universally regarded as one of the most moving soul ballads in recent history, it was smiles all around as Bill congratulates Stevie once the performance comes to an end.
They later met on the podium as Stevie inducted Bill with a heartfelt message in his introduction speech:
"What determines a great songwriters and singers is when they let you feel every word they sing and express. That which you can relate to."
Bill Withers' acceptance speech was just as emotive and eloquent, proving his credentials as a natural storyteller and wordsmith.
Stevie clearly admired Bill tremendously, and was planning on recording a duet together before his passing. They'd remained in contact up until Bill's death:
"We’d been texting each other," Stevie said. "He texted me in January telling me how much he appreciated me being there for him, then in February he texted about playing together."
Stevie continued: "I responded that it would be my pleasure, my joy. Just let me know and I’ll be there. That’s the last message I got from him."
We can only think about what might've been, but at least we have this performance to savour.