Wilbert Beasley Body and Soul | All Rights Reserved
Wilbert Beasley is 74. Ask the sharp-dressed, soul-shouting, R&B-singing leader of the Body
& Soul band if he's made any concessions to age, and he doesn't hesitate.
"Nooooooooooo," he answered quickly and emphatically. "I haven't made any changes at all
Born in Corpus Christi and raised in Cuero, Beasley broke into the soul-singing business in
Austin in the '50s.
"Music is something I always wanted to do," he said. "I was living in Austin, and about 1958 or
1959, I entered a talent show at a nightclub. I won, and that was it."
Beasley won with something out of the Jackie Wilson book.
"I need to put some Jackie Wilson back in the set list," Beasley said. "My influences are Jackie
Wilson, James Brown and Bobby 'Blue' Bland."
Not long after he got into music full time, Beasley relocated to Acapulco, Mexico, where he
fronted a band at Club Tiberius.
"In three months, I took that band from the worst band in Acapulco to the best band in
Acapulco," he said. "They didn't speak any English, and I speak two or three words of
Spanish, but we communicated, and we got good."
In '61, Beasley left Mexico and settled in San Antonio, working with bands such as Charlie &
the Jives and Big Ralph & the Gigolos. He worked as a supervisor for a custodial service at
Kelly Air Force Base for more than 30 years before retiring in 2002.
"I got married in '69, and I stayed out of music until '94 or '95," he said. "Nando Aguilar worked
with me at Kelly. He came to me and asked if I wanted to play in the band Powerhouse. At the
first rehearsal, they laughed at me like crazy because I hadn't sung in so long. But I'm glad
they did because they embarrassed me and inspired me. I went home and practiced singing
in front of a mirror for two or three months until I got my words back."
With Body & Soul, Beasley works with bassist Aguilar, Harold Jackson (guitar), Richard Tellez
(trumpet), David Garcia (saxophone), Joe Perez (saxophone) and Louie Martinez (drums).
The band plays classic soul and R&B and more at venues as varied as the King Ranch and
nightclubs, outdoor festivals and weddings. It has also played on a barge during all of the
Spurs championship river parades.
The band has released one CD, Wilbert Beasley and Body & Soul, a collection of cover
songs. A project of original selections is on the drawing board.
"We rehearse every Wednesday whether we have a gig or not," Beasley said. "Every
rehearsal we try to start learning one or two new songs because you just have to keep adding
to the set."
Body & Soul sets are built to please audiences.
"We'll have a set list, but you have to look at the crowd," Beasley said. "A band has to move
the crowd. A band has to get a rhythm going. I try to watch how people react to every song. I
try to get the crowd dancing. You can't just get up and play what you want to play. You have
people who come to dance, people who come to listen and people who come to look. You
have to please all those people."
The people who come to look at a Wilbert Beasley and Body & Soul show are rarely
disappointed. Beasley can be counted upon to sport sartorial finery, often changing clothes
two or three times a night. He also makes sure the band looks sharp.
"Way back when, James Brown came to San Antonio. When I saw him, I liked the way he
dressed, and I liked his show," Beasley said. "A long time ago, I had a gentleman come to see
my show. He said, 'I love your appearance. Remember, you only get one chance to make a
first impression.' So I make sure I look my best and that my band looks good, too."
When he's not on the bandstand, Beasley can often be found on a golf course.
"I'm no great golfer," he said, laughing, "but it's fun. I used to play three times a week, but it's
gotten too expensive, so I'm down to twice a week."
Beasley does not have a favorite golf course, nor does he have a favorite venue in which to
work, nor a favorite song to sing.
"I just love performing," he said. "I love singing. That's the greatest high I can get. I get excited
every time I sing."