With a booming bark of a voice, Paul Cauthen sings for his own salvation on My Gospel, his debut album as a solo artist. He speaks with the same intensity during the newest episode of Walking the Floor, with podcast host Chris Shiflett remarking, “Man, you need to have your own radio show,” during the pair’s introduction.
The 45-minute clip finds Shiflett and Cauthen covering all things Texas, allowing their conversation to make pit stops in Nashville, Colorado and Muscle Shoals along the way. A life-long musician, Cauthen has built his business on a willingness to hit the highway and travel the country, kicking things off as one-half of the Americana group Sons of Fathers before striking out on his own. Now, with an October marriage cementing his status as an official adult, Cauthen is heading back to his childhood roots, embracing the gospel and country music that once filled his grandparents’ home.
We’ve collected three highlights from Cauthen’s Walking the Floor interview below, followed by the episode’s premiere.
Paul Cauthen recorded part of My Gospel in FAME Studios, the Muscle Shoals-based birthplace of soul classics like “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
From singing into Etta James’ favorite microphone to eating banana pudding with legendary organ player Spooner Oldham, Cauthen received the full FAME experience during his stay in Muscle Shoals. The highlight of the tracking sessions, though, may have been his interaction with studio owner Rick Hall. Cauthen walked into the control room one day to find Hall seated at the console, listening to the title track from the singer’s album-in-progress.
“He pushed stop on the control board,” Cauthen remembers, “and said, ‘Paul, you’re a good singer, but if you wanna be a great singer, finish your sentences and pronounce your s’s.'” Cauthen took the advice to heart, quickly re-cutting his vocal tracks on “My Gospel.”
Coincidentally, Cauthen is an honorary member of the Texas Gentlemen, a group of Dallas-based musicians modeled after house bands like FAME’s own group, the Swampers.
“It’s a fraternal order of musicians,” he says of the sideman-filled supergroup, whose members have backed up frontmen like Kris Kristofferson and Leon Bridges. “All of us were the outcasts in college, so now we finally have a fraternity. It’s basically the ringers of the DFW region. . .[and] we’re just doing our take on the Swampers. There’s about 20 of us.”
Cauthen’s gospel roots are sunk deep into the Church of Christ, which he attended as a child in Tyler, Texas.
“I was raised in the gospel church – the Church of Christ,” he says. “[The music was] all a cappella. My granddad was the song leader, and he taught me old folk songs when I was really young, and taught me to sing harmony.” When Cauthen turned six years old, his grandfather bought him a guitar, too. Meanwhile, his grandmother taught him how to read shape notes, the go-to music notation for old-school church singing. Those two influences – the gospel music he’d learn at church and the folk tunes he’d hear at home – would later become the twin pillars of Cauthen’s solo debut.