Robert Finley (musician)

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Robert Finley at Indra Club 64 Hamburg (2018)

Robert Finley is an American blues and soul singer-songwriter and guitarist. After decades of performing semi-professionally followed by time away from music, Finley made a comeback in 2016. He released his debut studio album, Age Don't Mean a Thing, later in the year, which was met positively by critics.

Life and career[edit]

Finley was born and raised in Bernice, Louisiana, United States. At 11 years old he began practicing the guitar he had purchased from a thrift store.[1] Gospel music played a crucial role in his early development: "I always went to gospel quartet groups and I always took the front row seat, and I just watched their fingers", recollected Finley in an interview.[2] In 1970, he joined the army, originally to serve as a helicopter technician in Germany. Upon his arrival, however, Finley accommodated the army band's need for a guitarist and bandleader by traveling with the group throughout Europe until he was discharged.[1]

After returning to Louisiana, Finley worked as a part-time street performer, leader of the gospel group Brother Finley and the Gospel Sisters, and as a carpenter. In 2015, Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports aging blues musicians, discovered Finley busking before a gig in Arkansas. He was deemed legally blind and forced to retire from carpentry. With their help, Finley made a musical comeback, featuring him in packaged tours with acts like Robert Lee Coleman and Alabama Slim.[3][4]

Finley released his debut studio album, Age Don't Mean a Thing, on September 30, 2016, on Big Legal Mess Records. Although for the most part Finley was a bluesman, his record producer Bruce Watson keyed in on more of his soulful compositions.[5] With production credits from Watson and Jimbo Mathus, Finley traveled to Memphis to record the album with members of the Bo-Keys. He penned all but two of the tracks, highlighted by an autobiographical title song, on Age Don't Mean a Thing, evoking influences from Booker T. and the MGs, James Brown, and B. B. King.[6][7] Music journalists were highly receptive to Finley's comeback and album, particularly his revitalizing take on Southern soul.[5]

After Age Don't Mean a Thing, Finley got connected with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Auerbach and Finley then released an original soundtrack for the graphic novel, Murder Ballads, published by z2 Comics.[8] Shortly after the release of the Murder Ballads soundtrack, Billboard announced that Finley would be releasing a full-length album produced and co-written by Auerbach.

The album, Goin' Platinum! was released on Easy Eye Sound (Nonesuch Records) on December 8, 2017.[9] The following year Finley joined Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound Revue tour.[10]. Finley followed up the Easy Eye Sound Revue tour with a series of headline shows around the world.

In 2019, it was announced via social media that Finley was a contestant for the fourteenth season of America's Got Talent. AGT released a sneak peak where Finley sang an original song [11]. He has since reached the live shows being one of seven acts to move past the judge cuts round.


  1. ^ a b "Robert Finley - Biography". Music Maker. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "Making His Debut At 63, Bluesman Says 'Age Don't Mean A Thing'". Here and Now. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  3. ^ D' Arcangelo, Sam. "Album Premiere: 63-Year-Old Bluesman Robert Finley Unveils Debut Album, "Age Don't Mean A Thing"". OffBeat. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon. "Globalfest Showcases the Sounds and Traditions of World Music". New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Mehr, Bob. "At 63, Louisiana bluesman Robert Finley living musical dream". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  6. ^ Borquist, Nils. "The Soul Man". BayouLife. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Nadal, James. "Blues Spotlight: Robert Finley / Donald Jay Johnson And Gas Blues Band / The King Brothers". All About Jazz. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  8. ^ Blistein, Jon. "Hear Dan Auerbach, Robert Finley's Grisly New Outlaw Tune 'Bang Bang'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  9. ^ Stubblebine, Allison. "Dan Auerbach's 63 Year-Old Protégé Robert Finley Shares Soulful Video 'Medicine Woman': Interview". Billboard. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  10. ^ Zaleski, Annie (March 28, 2018). "Dan Auerbach Brings All-Star Session Musicians To Town". Cleveland Magazine. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  11. ^ "'AGT' Sneak Peek: Watch This Blind Singer Wow The Judges With An Original Song". Talent Recap. 2019-07-05. Retrieved 2019-07-07.

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