December 7, 2012
This folk-soul singer's modesty defines his relatively brief but sublime career. A U.S. Navy serviceman, he was making a living installing toilets in commercial airlines when his recording career began at age 30. His albums combined homespun wisdom and gentle empathy with folk-soul instrumentation. This nine-CD set covers the entirety of Withers career, from 1971 to 1985. He's remembered for the hits ("Lean on Me," "Ain't No Sunshine," "Use Me"), but his crowning achievement just might be the fiery "Live at Carnegie Hall"; it's the one Withers album to own if you don't want to spring for the entire set.