Robert B Hudmon Jr was born on 6 August 1954 at West Point, Georgia and started his singing carer at a very early age. By the time he was 15 he was with Bill Lowery in Atlanta, with staffer Joe South doing most of the writing and producing. And although the music on the 60s recordings is good вЂ“ particularly Buddy BuieвЂ™s arrangements on вЂњLook At Granny Run RunвЂ� вЂ“ IвЂ™m not a fan of child soul singing and HudmonвЂ™s unbroken voice just doesnвЂ™t do it for me. Even as late as the Capitol single he wasnвЂ™t really settled.
But by the time of the original Tomahawk cut of his famous вЂњHow Can I Be A WitnessвЂ� everything was in place. Hudmon had matured into an expressive singer, with a good range in his high baritone voice, with a hint or two of Al Green in the phrasing. The Tomahawk 45 is a rough and ready production, maybe not even much more than a demo, but it was enough to get him to Memphis where the experience of people like Jim Stewart and Bobby Manuel brought out the very best in him.
His series of cuts at the Daily Planet Studio came out on a variety of labels but they were amongst the best that southern soul had to offer at the time. There was the occasional nod to the disco crowd but not enough to detract from the real music. вЂњWitnessвЂ� was a big hit вЂ“ and deservedly so вЂ“ but other tracks were good too. David PorterвЂ™s вЂњAinвЂ™t No Need Of CryingвЂ� for example, and the Malaco like broken rhythm of вЂњHoldin' OnвЂ� are fine soul. Like these вЂњCause YouвЂ™re Mine NowвЂ� and "Bringing You Your Love" were midpaced tunes at which Hudmon seemed most at home; the uptempo вЂњIf You DonвЂ™t Cheat On MeвЂ� вЂ“ the initial plug side of the hit вЂ“ is enjoyable but the real cream is the beautiful вЂњIвЂ™m Everything You NeedвЂ�. This rivals almost every other mid 70s ballad for the beauty of the melody and the delicacy of the arrangement, and is perfectly suited to HudmonвЂ™s introspective vocal style. Most of the best cuts were pulled together onto the вЂњCloser To YouвЂ� set вЂ“ an LP to listen to time and again.
Like so many singers Hudmon resurfaced in the 80s after the disco boom was over, but the indie releases on R & B and Gold Key are not really up to his previous standard, derivative in style and covers rather than original songs. His reggaefied cut to вЂњBring It On Home To MeвЂ� is interesting but no more. The Nite Life track is a favourite on the modern soul scene in the UK and is now very rare indeed вЂ“ sadly the quality doesnвЂ™t match the records reputation or value. A disappointing way to end a distinguished recording career.
Hudmon passed away on 25 August 1995.
2 Cause You're Mine Now
3 A Lover's Question
4 How Can I Be A Witness
5 Bringing You Your Love
6 This Could Be The Night
7 Can't You See I Love You
8 I'm Everything You Need
5 Groovin' On My Baby's Love