For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to AARON NEVILLE.
With four platinum albums and three billboard number one records to his name, Aaron Neville is one of America’s most popular R&B musicians. He has recorded both with his brothers and with other artists. His single with Linda Ronstadt, ‘Don’t Know Much’, has become an easy listening classic.
Now, he’s back with a brand new album, ‘Apache’. Coming 50 years after his very first number one single, ‘Tell It Like It Is’, it’s given Aaron a new lease of life, but he still takes time to say his prayers and absorb the lessons of Thumper’s mother, as he tells HuffPostUK...
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I sing. I step out of my house and into nature. And I sing some more.
How do you deal with negativity?
I say prayers, I don’t like conflict. I need to be calm all the time. Prayers provide a built-in sanctuary. I wish more people knew about the benefit.
When and where are you happiest?
When I’m with my wife, or when I’m singing to an audience. A lot of years I didn’t have an audience, so I always appreciate it. Singing is like energy, there’s give and take between us. It’s not just me performing. I get so much back.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s the golden rule... do unto others as you would be done. I learned that s a small boy. And also what Thumper’s mother said in ‘Bambi’: ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
Trying to lead a clean life, staying out of trouble, keeping on the straight and narrow. And I’m still learning.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Straighten up, quit doing dumb things.
What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
Only one - to head overseas again, organise a European tour. Apart from that, it’s just about trying to be the best human being I can be.
What do you think happens when we die?
God is waiting for us, to forgive us all, and what is broken, he’ll fix. I think It’s a return to innocence.
When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
All the time. When I see the trees, when I’m walking in my wife’s garden. Even planting things is a miracle.
What do you try to bring to your relationships?
Be honest, be nice, be a flower not a weed.
What keeps you grounded?
I know the fact that I was born means I have to die, so my only aim is to reach out and help someone along the way.
What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
Every day some act of kindness comes my way, even if it’s just someone opening the door. It happens every day if you keep an eye out for it. Keeping an eye out, that’s the key.
Aaron Neville’s album ‘Apache’ is out now.