As someone who’s a legend in the music business, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey has seen firsthand how the craft has been enhanced by technology.
With the culture on the fence about artificial intelligence (AI) making its way into the music industry, Bailey recalls a similar response when sampling first became a thing.
“The times that we live in are moving so fast, and I think back to when everybody started sampling, and the record industry had not made provisions for compensation because it wasn’t anything that anybody had seen before, and I think AI is the very same thing,” Bailey explained.
What’s more, according to Bailey, the world is already behind when it comes to matters of AI.
“It’s like no one could have thought that, ‘Okay, AI can copy your sound, your likeness, and put out something that sounds just like you,'” he continued. “So how are we compensating this person that they’re copying? It’s moving so fast and it’s pretty fascinating. So, we’re all kind of looking to see where this is going, but I think that it’s like way ahead of us. And we got to catch up.”
For Bailey, while the technology used to share art may be changing, his desire to use music as a tool to help others has not, which is why he partnered with his daughter, Pili Bailey, to make a difference in the lives of young adults.
“About 14 or 15 years ago we started this foundation called Music Is Unity to benefit foster youth who are aging out of the system,” he explained. “Kids in foster care age out every single year, and they’re just kicked out into the world with no help and support.”
In addition to funding, the program features an initiative called Backstage Soundcheck where young adults are able to attend EWF concerts and witness what goes into making a tour possible, while also exploring various careers that are potentially available to them in the space.
His Introduction to Earth, Wind & Fire
Before Bailey joined EWF, Maurice White had already formed an early version of the band in 1969, a trio known as The Salty Peppers. The group grew to include White’s brother Verdine and changed its name to EWF. When White refreshed the lineup in 1972, Bailey came in to share lead vocals and his unmistakable “ozone-layer-falsetto,” according to NPR. From the very beginning, the group has captured and captivated audiences all over the world with a focus on music that sends a message.
From “Shining Star” to “Keep Your Head to the Sky” and beyond, the lyrics to each track are filled with uplifting and encouraging words that have inspired generations.
Much like Bailey’s mission to enhance the lives of young people through Music Is Unity, the sentiment is the same as a group member of EWF.
Changing The World One Song At A Time
“Maurice, the founder and architect of the band, he always used to say that he wanted to have a band that rendered a service to humanity, and so for that reason we chose to write the way we did,” Bailey recalled. “I’m a co-writer on many of the songs throughout our life, and we wanted to uplift our people.”
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Art continues to imitate life for Bailey as he aims to change the world for the better, one song at a time.