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"My acoustic soul" by John Simms


John Simms hails from Baltimore and has been a professional guitarist / singer / composer / songwriter since he was 17. He honed his craft the old-school way having spent many years on the Chitlin Circuit with various groups; including the 70s R&B group ‘The Softones’. Being the youngest of 14 children, all of whom were singers or musicians or both, he didn’t have to go very far to find his earliest inspirations; his father was also a gospel singer in the 30s and 40s with a group called the Spiritual Chords.

He came to Paris more than 20 years ago to get off the road for a while and hook up with his pianist / singer brother Arthur. He immediately began to make a living there: sometimes as a song writer / composer, (he even wrote songs for the Paradis Latin’s show Champagne), sometimes as a session guitarist or yet again as a backing vocalist with his now-deceased brother. Here are some of the people he has worked with: Michel Jonasz, Robert Charlebois, Yves Simon, Jacques Dutronc, Chagrin d’Amour, Nana Mouskouri.

He returned to the States in 1980 to record his first album, with his brother Arthur. It was entitled "John & Arthur Simms". During his stay in the U.S. John worked with Al Johnson and made it to Carnegie Hall playing behind singer Jean Carn.

John returned to Paris and married Danielle Rogé a.k.a. Brenda Jackson who was head of musical programming at French cable television network Canal +. He continued to write songs for various French artists and work occasionally as a studio singer/musician, but following Brenda’s death in 2002 he faded from the music world as he tried to deal with his loss. He had come to Paris to be with his brother Arthur and stayed for his wife Brenda; now they were both gone.


He went back playing and singing at the various clubs in Paris just over a year ago (luckily for us) !; He peppers his show with covers (Sam Cook, Othis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Marc Cohn, Elton John etc) but is progressively getting people around to his own compositions from his just-released cd album entitled “My Acoustic Soul” (for most of his audience his songs have already become standards).


I was in Paris working the last nine months and saw John many times at a couple of Irish pubs near St Michel area (Le G***** and Cor*****), including the one in the picture above where he plays every Thursday night. John is an excellant musician and a pleasure to watch. His redition of Walking in Memphis kicks azz!!

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