Toussaint, who grew up in a nearby New Orleans neighborhood and attended the same school as the Neville brothers, has been a frequent collaborator with Aaron over the years. “Aaron gives the song, the arts, the fullness of his heart and soul every time,” Toussaint says. “He has always been that way. It’s good to know that when something is that good, it’s good forever---the velvet voice of Aaron Neville.”
Producer Joe Henry and Neville recorded I Know I’ve Been Changed over a period of five days, using a stripped-down production approach to showcase the strength of the twelve handpicked songs, as well as the beauty of Neville’s unmistakable vocals.
In true old-school fashion, the musicians played along with Neville’s vocals in- studio to capture the feel of a live set. Arranging and recording such a large amount of material over such a short period, required masterful focus and teamwork. “When I go to the gym, I go to work out. When I go to church, I go to pray. When I go to the studio, I go to sing,” Neville explains.
To handle the challenge of that level of performance, the producer assembled some of the top players. “I call them hard hitters at the bat,” Neville says. “With them playing, there weren’t too many mistakes.”
After four days of working on the instrumentation and lead vocals, Neville pulled together a group of singers who had worked with him on tour and in-studio for many years. They followed Aaron’s vibe, creating classic background arrangements to match the era in which most of the songs were originally recorded.
Over the past five decades, the indelible spirit of New Orleans has been synonymous with the musical dynasty known as the Neville Brothers. For Aaron Neville the solo artist, there is an equally intimate connection between his music and the faith that has sustained him for his entire life. Through challenge and tragedy, he’s managed to thrive, protecting both his heart and his voice. Ask him how and he says simply this: “He who sings once, prays twice.”
That perspective served him well in the months after Hurricane Katrina. “Right after the storm we’d go places to perform and run into displaced people from