The deep soul of Otis Redding and Percy Sledge didn't really disappear after its heyday in the 1960s. It just went back to its grassroots origins. Today's generation of Southern soul artists still writes and records music that tells stories about life, love, and having a good time with other grown folks. Richmond singer, songwriter, and guitarist Big G has become one of Southern soul's most prolific artists with 20 albums to his credit, nearly all of them on the Stone River label operated by his manager Cynthia Vaughan. Born George Staten in rural Charlotte County, Big G sang in local gospel quartets as a teenager before he started to work what he calls the "liquor house and juke joint" circuit with his first band.
After his first few releases were local hits, Big G frequently found himself on bills with Roy C, the North Carolina Southern soul legend. Eventually Big G and the Total Control Band became Roy C's backing band for several years. Big G has also shared the stage with soul greats Clarence Carter, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Millie Jackson, Latimore, and Marvin Sease.
While getting airplay can be an uphill battle for an independent Southern soul artist, Big G and Vaughan creatively have found other avenues to spread their original music. Big G was a finalist in a CBS Morning Show battle of the bands contest, and his song "Do What It Do" is the theme for the Famous Brown Getdown TV show hosted by Richmond wrestler, newspaper owner, bail bondsman, and nightclub owner Preston "Famous" Brown. Several of his homespun YouTube music videos have gone viral, especially "Last Paycheck," which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Stone River has also produced a variety of Southern soul festivals throughout Virginia. Even when he plays right in Richmond, Big G says most of his fans are transplants from rural parts of the state.
“I feel like life is nothing but love and laughter and heartache and pain, trials and tribulations, and I touch through all of them in my songs," says Big G.