Willie Walker part of "Sights, Sounds & Soul-Twin Cities Through The Lens of Charles Chamblis" exhibit at the Minnesota History Center
From family reunions to the nightclub scene, there is no one who documented the Twin Cities Black community like Charles Chamblis. Affectionately called “The Pictureman,” he had a passion for photography and a knack for being everywhere at the right time. View more than 60 images from the 1970s and '80s, alongside artifacts including suits worn by Prince and Jellybean Johnson in the movie Purple Rain. As an integral part of the music scene in the Twin Cities during this period, Willie is featured in several photographs in the collection. This is a wonderful exhibit and is not to be missed!
As a young boy, Willie Walker realized that he had voice when his sister, Josephine, said, “You sound good!” At age 16, enchanted by Minnesota’s beauty, he quit his touring gospel group and Memphis. That same year (1959) a strange thing happened in a laundromat. Timothy Eason of the original Valdons just walked up to his soon-to-be bandmate and remarked, “You look like you can sing.” Audiences internationally have experienced the depth of Willie’s answer ever since.
The Exciter’s drummer Herman Jones put an otherworldly value on Willie’s charisma and Sam Cooke-like voice that caused women to “just faint!” It was like [Willie] was made out of pure, liquid gold,” he told Secret Stash in 2012. Nevertheless, beginning in the mid-1970s, Willie left the music industry and the stress of a bandleader for a nine-to-five day job.
Perhaps, moments like this brought him back after 17 years: When the first notes of “A Change is Gonna Come” sounded during his Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame 2013 induction performance, Willie said: “Everybody knew what I was going to do and just screamed. That was a good feeling. . . .The song is so subtle , but the meaning, the message comes through so clear.”
The exhibit runs through January 4th, 2015