Spaghetti and fried fish.
That’s what Bernard Flowers’ grandmother cooked several Fridays ago when I visited her Memphis home. At the end of each week, her family rolls through deep. At least 10 of them. The elder ones hang out in the kitchen with Granny, catching each other up on the latest. The children goof around in the living room, only pausing to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks on the television.
I was there to shoot Flowers for a two-part short for his label Epic. He comes from a great home. One so good to me that the cook wouldn’t allow me to hang off to the side like an outsider. No, I had to get a plate. And how could I resist? When a sweet old lady tells you to eat, grabs your hand and guides you to a full pot of pasta and piles of fish sitting on a paper towel blanket damp with grease, it’s go time.
Now contrast that with the sit-down interview I had with Bernard maybe an hour or two prior to dinner. We talked about worries I wouldn’t imagine someone that comes from a “good home” would have. How could someone that’s had two involved parents (and three older siblings), proper schooling and a warm place to sleep and at night for all of his 23 years have some of the same fears as people that grew up with far less?
“When I’m in the studio, I don’t have to worry about watching my back or anybody trying to take anything from me. When my partners are with me, I don’t have to worry about anybody trying to kill them or trying to hurt them. I’m another person.”
– Bernard Flowers
As you’ll learn in The Escape, even when you have a strong support system within your four walls, stepping outside in Memphis leaves you open to outside problems. Flowers believes that, without music to save him, he would have ended up dead or in jail. The studio was and continues to be his safe haven.
I wrote a companion piece for Billboard, who premiered both parts of The Escape. So I’m not going to overwrite here.
What I will say is I enjoyed my time in Tennessee with Bernard, his friends and family. With that crew, his talent and Epic backing him, he’s got a good chance at making it as far as he wants.
Oh, and the spaghetti and fish combo was bomb. I hope you enjoy these vids I shot and edited like I did Grandma’s fixings.