Robert Randolph On World Cafe

Feb 27, 2017

Robert Randolph has built an entire life and career on the gospel that music is religion. His musical education began in Orange, N.J., at the Pentecostal House of God church, where the walls ring out with a lively, powerful style of music called sacred steel. It's based around the pedal steel guitar — a 13-string instrument that found its way into African-American churches in the 1930s, and has since become an integral part of praise.

Along with his Family Band, Randolph has fused the sound of sacred steel with funk and soul on original secular records — including the band's new album, Got Soul. Randolph and company have turned arenas, clubs and concert halls into places of worship, and they're introducing a new generation to an ages-old tradition. In honor of Black History Month, Randolph digs into some of the history of sacred steel music — from its pioneers to his mentors to the incredible focus and devotion it takes to become a pedal-steel virtuoso.

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