He is a soul singer who later turned to Gospel music. In the 1970s, he hit his peak with hit singles such as “You Oughta Be With Me”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “Love and Happiness”, and “Let’s Stay Together”. In 2005, Rolling Stone named him #66 in their list of the ’100 Greatest Artists of All Time’. In 1995, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which referred to him as “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music.” To date, he has sold more than 20 million records. He has won numerous other awards and accolades including being inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 BET Awards.
Like many children during his time, he was taught Gospel music from a young age. In fact, Gospel music was the only accepted form of music in his parents’ household. He writes in his autobiography, “There was God’s music and the devil’s music…nothing in between and no two ways about it.” His father often told him about the “evils” of other types of music such as soul music. But this other music was compelling to him, and consequently, as a teenager, his father threw him out of the house for listening to other soul artists. He eventually started an R&B group and soon after went solo. By the early ’70s, he had made his home in Memphis, forgotten about God and his Christian upbringing, and was enjoying the fruits of fame which included rock and roll and lots of women. He states in his autobiography, “I wasn’t paying much attention to the laws of God and the wages of sin at the age of twenty-five. I have had carnal relations with more women then I can remember or confess. We sow the wind and reap the whirlwind, fulfilling the desires of our flesh and bringing down upon ourselves the judgment of God.”
He says of his conversion that he was in the Disneyland Hotel in the middle of a tour, when he was awakened out of sleep by his own shouting. He said, “I was praising God, rejoicing in the great and glorious gift of salvation through his son Jesus Christ…. Suddenly the shouting and celebration stopped and I heard a voice, calm and clear coming from inside me. ‘Are you ashamed of Me?’ was the question it asked and the words pierced me like a knife.” He buried his face in a handful of towels to muffle the noise as he shouted “Lord, no!” He says, “Whatever I knew…all that faded into insignificance. I was in the middle of a personal encounter one on one with my Creator and now at least I understood what all the words and all the songs and all the tears had really meant.”
However, after this conversion, he kept up with his sinful ways and needed a more harsher lesson before he truly came to Christ. A little while after his conversion in the Disneyland Hotel, one of his girlfriends assaulted him by dousing him with a pot of hot grits while he was taking a shower, burning him on his back, stomach, and arms. Although she was already married, she was upset because he would not marry her. After burning him, she went and killed herself with his gun. This episode proved to be a turning point in his life. He finally surrendered his carnality to his faith in Jesus Christ and produced what many consider to be the finest work of his career, the “Belle” album. In it, he says, “I sang ‘it’s you that I want but it’s Him that I need,’ And I meant it. Each note and every word.”
Today, he continues to sing R&B and Gospel music around the world, pastors the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, and gives this message of salvation to all people who visit his website: “Thank you for visiting my website. I would like to take this opportuntity to invite you to bring Christ into your life. Confess Jesus Christ today as your personal saviour and you will begin to receive his bountiful blessings. Ask him into your life today. By confessing your sins, you will be given the miraculous gift of salvation.” His name is Al Green.