I'm a firm believer in God himself, but that's as far as I can go. I'm not any denomination. I'm not Catholic or Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist or Jewish or Muslim. I'm none of those things. And I'm sure that's just fine with God.
I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me - like food or water.
What makes my approach special is that I do different things. I do jazz, blues, country music and so forth. I do them all, like a good utility man.
Mama was a country woman with a whole lot of common sense. She understood what most of our neighbors didn't - that I shouldn't grow dependent on anyone except myself. 'One of these days, I ain't gonna be here,' she kept hammering inside my head.
Affluence separates people. Poverty knits 'em together. You got some sugar and I don't; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I'll give you some of mine.
Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond.
Music is my life, professionally, for nearly 60 years. To be recognized by the academy is still the highest honor.
I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't been able to hear.