Having performed with a legendary list of modern music icons—John Mayer, Eric Clapton and Dave Matthews, just to name a few—Robert Randolph is one of the most in-demand musicians on the music scene today. Combing through one hundred years of African-American music to compile the historic track listing for We Walk This Road (warner Bros.), the famous “sacred steel” player and Family Band frontman gives CCM an exclusive look into his first record in four years and shares the tradition behind his soul-infused pedal steel. CCM: What was the impetus for recording a retrospective work like We Walk this road? robert randolph: now that I’ve been recording for a decade, it seemed right to look back at where I’ve come from. I’ve been so fortunate to work with and know artists who have had long careers, like Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Robbie Robertson and so many others. Their perspective helped me to see how precious the music of my church is—not just to me as an artist, but also to the rest of the music world. If I’m not paying it respect, then who else will? CCM: What timely messages surface in these historic songs? robert: I would say “timeless” rather than “timely.” The biggest and most important messages in life have remained with us for centuries: How does one live life with meaning? How does one uplift others around us? CCM: how did T-bone burnett’s americana expertise enhance the recording process? robert: T-Bone is an archivist, historian and guide all wrapped up into one. He has always seen the connection between music from different eras. CCM: Your resume includes a list of high-profile performances and collaborations. Is juggling your secular and Christian music appeal tricky? robert: Luckily, no. At the heart of it, my music and the music I love uplifts people. In the end, great music still inspires people. I think my audience and millions of music fans, both Christian and otherwise, understand and embrace that. CCM: You are famous for “urbanizing” the pedal steel. What first inspired you to marry the instrument with gospel/urban genres? robert: I come from a century-old tradition that married the steel guitar with Gospel music. I’ve always wanted to continue that musical path with my recordings. We Walk This Road takes listeners on that journey. From Gospel’s oldest sounds to songs by Prince, the thread that connects it all remains strong, constant and vibrant. — Andrew Greer www.robertrandolph.net Robert Randolph urban highlights the Act: Joyfest the site: www.joyfest.com the sound: Black Gospel/urban the buzz: Featuring Fred Hammond, Sinbad, J. Moss and comedian Bone Hampton, the first concert of the annual summer festival series held in Charlotte, north Carolina attracted an astounding 12,000 urban music fans. the Act: Deitrick Haddon the site: www.myspace.com/heydeitrick the sound: Progressive Gospel/urban the buzz: The voices of unity leader and Modern Gospel star makes his film debut in Blessed & Cursed, a modern- day twist on the Biblical story of David and Saul. the Act: F1 Diamond the site: www.f1diamond.com the sound: Hip-Hop the buzz: Gospel hip-hop’s “Pastor of the Traphouse” releases video “God Loves the Hood,” now playing on choice video outlets like BET and GMC and is featured in high-profile retail reels for Champs, Foot Locker and over 2,000 other stores. CCM 45