Home » Rest in power, Bobby Caldwell, the blue-eyed soul singing legend who is not — spoiler alert — a Black man

Rest in power, Bobby Caldwell, the blue-eyed soul singing legend who is not — spoiler alert — a Black man

by The Grio

Singer Bobby Caldwell attends the Soul Train Awards 2013 at the Orleans Arena on November 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BET)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

The music world lost a legendary artist in Bobby Caldwell, the 71-year-old singer, songwriter and musician, whose most famous song, “What You Won’t Do For Love,” can almost literally be heard in everything, everywhere all at once. He passed away Tuesday at his home in New Jersey. Whether you’re at CVS or on a Tom Joyner cruise in your white or off-white linens, “What You Won’t Do For Love” is never far away. In addition to the music world losing a legend, depending on where you are in your journey, it’s entirely possible that for some, the Black community also lost a legend. 

It would absolutely not be true, but some of you don’t know that yet. You see, every year, like clockwork, some new legion of Black people find out that Bobby Caldwell is, in fact, not a Black man but a white man whose silky voice just so happened to be so silky smooth that he has been mistaken for a Black man and claimed by the Black community, since, well the late 1970s. Now, it’s not entirely the fault of the Black community that some of us don’t know. If you listen to him sing, well … then you get it. Also, his biggest song has been adopted by the community en masse. And why wouldn’t it; it’s an R&B song, through and through. 

You see, when Bobby Caldwell got his big break and that song was packaged and marketed, everything left off his face. It was kind of the reverse of the issue the Five Heartbeats had with their first album cover, which featured white people. The art for the “What You Won’t Do For Love” single simply featured a heart, and the…

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