Roots & Fruits #1: The Clan, Blue Notes, and Other Legends

This visual was created by Wu-Tang Clan in the hopes of inspiring change and promoting unity throughout the world. Check out the video and share your opinions. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, with Teddy Pendergrass singing lead vocals, the song had a somewhat unconventional structure, starting subdued and building slowly to a climax.  The title track from their 1975 album, the song spent two weeks at number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart in early 1976. It also enjoyed success on the pop charts, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart., and number 23 in the UK Singles Chart.  They performed the song on Soul Train on November 22, 1975.  Read more on Wikipedia.


Music video by John Legend & The Roots performing Wake Up Everybody. (c) 2010 Getting Out Our Dreams and Sony Music Entertainment

John Legend: Back to My Roots

An In-depth Interview by Pete Lewis 

'Blues & Soul' October 2010


PETE: So what was the thought behind you covering Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes’ 1976 Philly soul anthem ‘Wake Up Everybody’ and essentially making it the album’s centrepiece?

JOHN: “Obviously the song’s lyrics play right into the album’s theme. It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together - in that it’s about justice and doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place. Plus, in addition to tying in with the driving theme behind the album, it was also originally done by a Philadelphia group - Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes… And obviously there is a big Philly connection on the album overall - what with The Roots having been born and raised in Philadelphia, and me having gone to school there for four years and in turn becoming part of the city’s music scene for several years… You know, we all have that Philly connection and the respect for Philly soul. So all in all, it just made sense for us to cover the song, and for it to become the signature song on the album - particularly in terms of giving it its title.”

PETE: The only original composition on ‘Wake Up!’ is your own new song ‘Shine’ - which will actually be featured in the upcoming film ‘Waiting For Superman’, a documentary directed by the Academy Award-winning Davis Guggenheim…

JOHN: “I’ve always believed that, when you talk about equality, when you talk about justice, and when you talk about civil rights in this country (America), a big barrier to that is the fact that there’s an inequality in the educational system. Basically people who live in a good neighbourhood and come from money have access to better schools than OTHER kids do - and whenever that’s the case, it perpetuates injustice and inequality. So to me the civil rights issue of our time is to work on making the educational system more FAIR. Which is basically what the film ‘Waiting For Superman’ is all ABOUT - understanding that the education system in America is broken, and that we need to seriously WORK on it! And so I felt that thematically the song I’d actually penned for the movie - ‘Shine’ - would fit really nicely into what we were doing on the album… Though the version I recorded for the album isn’t actually the version that’s in the FILM! You know, when I originally wrote it for the film it was kinda similar to (John’s transatlantic 2005 hit ballad) ‘Ordinary People’ in its arrangement style, with just piano and strings. Whereas for the version on ‘Wake Up!’ we instead referenced Stevie Wonder’s (classic 1973 LP) ‘Talking Book’ as our musical inspiration, and in particular the track ‘I Believe When I Fall In Love It’ll Be Forever’.”



They wait to plead their case, unknown cast aside
I love to see their face, can we spare the lie?
Are we afraid to see them, prisoners of history
These beautiful minds, trapped inside, bring them back to life
Let 'em shine, let 'em shine on
Let 'em shine, let 'em shine on


So dark when I see sparks, if we don't snuff 'em out
We've gotta let 'em flame, let 'em speak their name
Let 'em reach up to the clouds
Can't eat if we don't feed 'em, can't read if we don't teach 'em
There's no light if we just hide 'em
Don't just let 'em die
Let 'em shine (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine on
Let 'em shine (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine on
Oh let 'em shine on (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine on
Let 'em shine on (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine, on

Ohhhhh sparks flicker, in the distance
Lonely out in space
They sing out, but we're not listening
Cause we don't see their face
We can't let 'em die we can't, make 'em hide
All the little miracles that live inside
Let 'em shine, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Let 'em shine (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine on
Let 'em live (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine on
Let 'em be loved (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine on
Let 'em growwww (yeah yeah yeah) let 'em shine, on
C'mon let 'em love (yeah yeah yeah) hey
C'mon let 'em love (yeah yeah yeah) hey hey hey yeah
C'mon let 'em love (yeah yeah yeah) YEAH-HA-HEAH

Hold 'em close, let 'em know
That they'll get through the night
Ordinary people could, be a hero
Don't put out the light!

Let 'em shine, let 'em shine on [2X]
Let 'em shine on