These Black Hits From Music Legend Bill Withers Are A Gift To The Culture

bill withers leaning against a wall and smiling
Brooke Brown
August 23, 2022

Grandma’s Hands (1971)

With lyrics like “Baby Grandma understands/ That you really loved that man/ Put yourself in Jesus' hands,” Bill Withers infused acoustic folk soul into a tribute about the empathetic, faith-grounded advice of Black grandmothers.

Lean On Me (1972) 

The 1989 cinematic classic “Lean On Me” depicted the real life maverick New Jersey principal Joe Clark, played by Morgan Freeman, and its soundtrack included Withers’ 1972 hit song by the same name. 

The uplifting lyrics praised unconditional unity and being unashamed to ask for help when one is struggling, values the Black community has always embraced.

Harlem (1971) 

Withers crooned about Saturday night, cold winters, and controversial Sunday mornings in the Manhattan, NYC Black cultural epicenter - and we loved it.

Who Is He (And What Is He to You) (1972) 

This funky hit has all the funky bass, bluesy guitar, orchestral strings, tambourine, and emotionally powerful lyrics that fans of Withers’ catalog will always savor.

Lovely Day (1977) 

This upbeat classic spread Withers’ #BlackBoyJoy across the world. 

Like Bill Withers, no matter what we do, putting all of ourselves and our Blackness into the things we create will always be important!

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