Wendy Moten: The to ‘Sole Soul’ Interview

Performance at Feb. 20 event to benefit those served by Christ Community Health Service.

Bernal E. Smith, II | 12/19/2015, 2:09 p.m.
Performance at Feb. 20 event to benefit those served by Christ Community Health Service.
“The thing is finding what you love, pursuing it with passion and putting in the work. Most – if not all – the doors will open, if you’re open and ready to do the work.” – Wendy Moten (Courtesy photos)

Bernal E. Smith II: Wendy Moten! I am excited to have this opportunity to share with our readers your illustrious musical career and – just as importantly – your work and commitment to Memphis, specifically to the work that Christ Community Health (Service) is doing. So there is a big event coming up in February called “Sole to Soul” and among other genres you represent soul music. Tell me about the event and why it is important? Why did you decide to lend your talents to it?

Wendy Moten: When I was asked to participate I did a little research on the organization and met some of the people in charge, Chris Stovall and Beverly Robertson. Beverly called me and told me about the cause and I was immediately motivated. Anytime I can help with anything dealing with Memphis and it’s helping other people, I want to be a part of it. So at that point I was in. When I started to find out what the organization is about and I wanted to be involved even more. It’s a big cause and a much-needed organization.

B.E.S: You grew up here in Memphis, right? Overton High School?

W.M.: I lived on Kyle and Lamar. South Memphis born and raised. And I’m still in love with South Memphis…everything that most people think is cool about me I got from growing up in South Memphis. The community was a big thing to developing who I became and I see that what CCH(S) is doing is going into the communities that need help to make them aware of some of the things that they need to do. I want to participate in that; I really can’t do it on my own. Here is a way that I can be involved and kind of pay it back. I will utilize my talents and be the cheerleader for the work.

B.E.S.: Certainly you have built a great brand over the years with your gift and you most certainly have a gift that has been recognized. You have traveled the world and performed with some of the world’s best-known musicians – Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton and others.

W.M: John Oates and Faith Hill, Tim McGraw…it’s too many; I can’t even remember everybody.

B.E.S: When I hear your name I think of one of Memphis’ best and brightest across the many generations of musicians that we have produced. … What has been your secret to success?

W.M.: I have to tell you that I learned a great work ethic a long time ago in high school. My music teacher expected excellence every day. We were poor kids from South Memphis and she was like, ‘That’s not an excuse not to succeed.’ I had to create a great work ethic. Got a meeting? Show up on time! Do good work all the time, do your best and have compassion. My parents taught me compassion and listening to others and helping one another. I just believe in that. I believe in extending yourself when you can. I learned and applied those lessons while also being open to other people and trying new things. That leads to new opportunities. You have to be open, you have to be unafraid and you have to take chances – but good ones. Do the work.