Minnesota-based blues singer has song in the movie 'Joy'

Willie West has spent his career working with R & B's biggest names.

- Even though he's sung the blues for nearly 60 years, a much different emotion is in St. Cloud-based Willie West's heart these days. A song he sang five decades ago is getting another listen in the new movie "Joy.”

"I knew as long as I kept my voice and heart, there would be something that would come along to be great for me,” West said.

West first started singing as a teenager in the 1950's when he formed a band with his cousins called The Sharks.  

For the next few decades, he was a fixture on the New Orleans blues scene recording songs like “Did You Have Fun,” “Fairchild,” and “I Sleep with the Blues.” Some were especially written for him by legendary producer Allen Toussaint.

But West never hit it big. After Hurricane Katrina, he and his wife, who's from the smaller Minnesota city of Virginia, decided to relocate to St. Cloud.

"She had a job offer in Minneapolis but I didn’t want to be in a big city, we took a little small town like this,” West said.  “She got a nice job over here and here we are.”

He said even though "Baby Baby I Love You" is only up for a few seconds during Jennifer Lawrence's wedding dance with her on-screen father Robert Deniro, it comes at a significant moment in the film.

"I had that same feeling when my first record came out -- had that same feeling, just overwhelming. I had that same joy when I heard it."

One of West's most recent albums may be titled Lost Soul, but he hopes the movie helps a new generation of music fans see him as a soul survivor -- "I'll sing until the end. I'll sing until the fat lady sings,” he laughed.


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