Nobody has a voice like Aaron Neville.
The Neville Brother with the beautiful tenor, who helped define the New Orleans sound, first scored acclaim with “Tell It Like It Is,” which went to the top of the R&B chart and peaked at No. 2 on the pop chart in 1967. But Neville, 75, has been at it for over a half-century. He has four platinum albums and four Top Ten hits.
Between his work with the Neville Brothers and his 13 solo albums, Neville could rest on his laurels.
“But I can’t stop,” Neville says. “I love what I do. Why retire? I still want to perform and I still want to record.
Neville, who will appear Friday at the Baldwin Auditorium on Duke’s campus, will showcase songs from his latest album, “Apache,” which dropped in July. The followup to 2013’s underheralded “My True Story,” is a refreshingly old-school album. Neville goes back to his roots with a collection of songs that could stand next to “Tell It Like It Is” and “Hercules.”
The new songs – 10 of the 11 tunes were written by Neville – shouldn’t just be classified as nostalgic. The songs are passionate, intimate tunes. Such tracks as “I Wanna Love You,” “Heaven” and “Make Your Momma Cry” are moving and pretty.
“I think people still want to hear those type of songs,” Neville says. “People relate to love songs. They touch you.”
Neville has been singing about affairs of the heart and more for his entire career and he is still at the top of this game in his twilight years.
“Just because you’re of a certain age doesn’t mean you can’t be creative any more,” Neville says. “I can still sing. I take care of myself and I still have that drive.”
Neville’s not alone. Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Iggy Pop are examples of other senior citizen songwriters who still impress at an advanced age.
“We tend to honor the young in this country,” Neville says. “But the more you experience, the better a writer you are.”
Not even Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Neville’s home city 11 years ago. “That experience was terrible but the music is in me,” Neville says. “My life was disrupted but I kept it together.”
Neville can sing almost any genre of music – jazz, country, gospel and pop in addition to soul and R&B. “Music is music,” Neville says. “It doesn’t matter what style of music I sing. It doesn’t matter who I play with as long as what I’m doing is interesting.”
Neville has worked with a wide range of musicians ranging from Linda Ronstadt (with whom he recorded the two smash hits “Don’t Know Much” and “All My Life”), Chris Botti and Keith Richards, who co-produced “My True Story.”
“Keith is as cool as you can imagine,” Neville says. “I had so much fun making the album with him. I’ve been fortunate to be around so many great people throughout my career.”
It’s a career that is still vibrant. “I want to keep going,” Neville says. “I still have something left.”
Who: Aaron Neville
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Baldwin Auditorium, 1336 Campus Dr., Durham
Cost: Sold out