Singer/songwriter Walt Richardson visited the Arizona PBS studios to perform his songs “Love Wings” and “I Say Love” and talk about his decades-long career and his love for guitar and performing.
“Many, many years ago when I first started out playing, I was writing folk tunes, but they were kind of somber, and the folks at the open mic nights would say, man we love your tunes, but they’re downers,” Richardson said with a chuckle. “‘I Say Love’ was my first attempt at writing a song with a rapid beat to it, and it just stuck with me.”
He’s been a fixture of Tempe’s music scene since those open mic nights in the ’70s when he was a student at ASU. Over the years, he’s played in bands and as a solo artist, toured nationally and nurtured the music scene here at home, including music programs in schools, with an emphasis on cultural diversity. He became the first inductee into Mill Avenue’s Walk of Music in 2014, and on his 60th birthday, Richardson was inducted into Arizona’s Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame at Tempe Center for the Arts.
Richardson says he discovered his love of music early in life. “My brother and I used to sit down and make sounds with our mouths and get them to blend,” he said. “That started leading me down this road of how sound vibrates and how it moves, especially between two voices.”
While at first the appeal of the guitar was tied to its association with youthful rebellion, Richardson says he values its versatility. “As I’ve learned over the years, the guitar allows you to express your soul through it,” he said. “If I have this one guitar and four or five singer/songwriters, it’s going to sound different in each person’s hand. That’s what I like about how unique the instrument is in terms of allowing the creator, the songwriter to move through it.”