“When I first met Jimmy Norman in 2001 in a tiny New York City bar, his health was very poor. He’d had a heart attack and had been forced to retire after three decades of singing with The Coasters. It was unimaginable at the time that Jimmy’s very best work—the crowning moments to a long, illustrious musical career—lay in the years ahead.
Yet, that’s just what happened after the Jazz Foundation of America came to his rescue. This extraordinary organization, made up of people who deeply love music and recognize its importance to our culture, has an emergency fund to help musicians facing difficult times.
It was while assisting Jimmy with the seemingly mundane task of cleaning out his cluttered apartment that two young Jazz Foundation volunteers struck musical gold. Among Jimmy’s possessions were stacks of old notebooks full of song lyrics, most never recorded or even performed in public. The hand-scribbled notes had been buried under other stored items for years and had already been put in plastic bags for disposal.
Word of Jimmy’s “lost” songs reached the musicians at Penang, a neighborhood music bar. Kerryn Tolhurst, a record producer who used to jam on his Dobro there, visited Jimmy at his apartment to hear some of the new material. He was amazed by what he heard and agreed to be Jimmy’s producer.
The first recording was Little Pieces, the result of a two-year, no budget project in which Tolhurst worked with Jimmy at his home to bring to life an amazing collection of “new-old” songs written on the road during the 1960s and 70s. Released in 2004, the first recording was a critical success that wove together Jimmy’s unique musical background of country, gospel, blues and jazz.
Now, nearly seven years later, Jimmy Norman and Kerryn Tolhurst are back with The Way I See It, a continuation of their remarkable collaboration. Jimmy’s songs are again first rate—timeless, homespun stories of lost love, the pursuit of power and continuing racial differences.
And, again, Kerryn has assembled some of the finest musicians working today to back Jimmy in the studio.
Jimmy Norman’s music represents an explosive period of American creativity—a time when soul and R&B (heavily under the influence of gospel and blues) met the richest storytelling traditions of country music. A native of Nashville, Jimmy came of age in the post World War II era when all these musical forms were fusing into what would become the golden age of rock and roll.
For this reason, one cannot separate Jimmy’s music from his personal story. They are forever blended. These songs represent Jimmy Norman’s life, and the miracle that brought them to us is a true blessing.”
New York City