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José James captures the soul of Bill Withers with 'Lean on Me'

Singer/songwriter José James.
Singer/songwriter José James.
Cherry Chill Will

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A tribute to the soul icon who walked away 

Bill Withers was somewhat of a mystery when he recorded his first album in 1971 — and in many ways he still is. Originally from West Virginia, Withers was working in a factory in Los Angeles before the success of “Ain’t No Sunshine” made him celebrity almost over night. But then, in 1985, after penning a number of R&B classics, Withers retired from music altogether. Singer José James has a new album of Withers covers called “Lean on Me.” But in making a tribute album, James wanted to learn more about Withers life and his decision to retreat from the spotlight. When he spoke with The Frame’s John Horn recently, James discussed Withers' legacy and his decision to meet the 80-year-old icon in person.