Walter Wolfman Washington
On April 20, 2018 at age 74, Walter Wolfman Washington released an album unlike any he had recorded before. It’s the album he always wanted to make — stripped down and soulful, featuring voice and lyrics over instruments.
He named it “My Future Is My Past,” because he knows his success is built on everything he’s learned over all of his years. The Peoples Health Champions program celebrates “Excellence through Experience,” and Walter’s understanding of the value of his past is what this program is all about.
Walter has been playing professionally since he was 19. And he says every day since then, he has learned more about performing, about being a musician, about understanding music as a language all its own. His approach to songwriting has always been to let the music tell the story first, with notes and chords being his words, their meanings revealed by how he played them. The lyrics he layers on top are meant to interpret the stories he had created on guitar. But with the new album, the feelings of the songs are first found in his voice. That vocal focus required a great deal more discipline, more attention, more confidence than even his guitar mastery could give.
Over the course of his career, Walter’s played with some of the most famous musicians to come out of New Orleans. And for each note, each song, each set he played, Walter learned a little more. When he says his future is his past, it’s not just his past he’s talking about; it’s the experience gained over the pasts of each of his mentors as well.
If he is indebted to those who taught him how to be a musician and a performer, Walter is paying back that debt by mentoring others, passing on the lessons he’s learned over his 75 years. But like a true Champion, Walter knows there’s more education ahead for him. He says “the day I stop learning is the day I’ll give it up.”
Walter Wolfman Washington … Peoples Health Champion