Calvin Simon's current project, It's Not Too Late, is his second Christian album, as he releasedShare The News in 2004 that reached No. 21 on Billboard's Gospel Albums chart. During this time, Simon was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and all efforts to support the record, including a tour, had to be cancelled. Simon's strength during his recovery was aided by his faith, which began as a child growing up in Beckley, West Virginia and rededicating his life to Christ in 2002 with a second baptism. After such a long journey of recovery, and nursing his wife who died in 2013 from bone cancer, the album's title, It's Not Too Late, signifies the power and grace of God for those who reach out to Him.
Despite Simon's personal hardships, he has enjoyed a stellar career as a member of The Parliaments and Parliament Funkadelic for 20 years that resulted in 15 Gold and seven Platinum albums, along with the prestigious induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Simon and three other founding members of Parliament Funkadelic formed a new band Original P, and when the group disbanded, the music legend developed a production company and record company, Par Golf Music Productions/Simon Sayz Recordings, which led to Simon becoming a solo Gospel artist.
Q: Congratulations on the release of "It's Not too Late." Why did you entitle the record "It's Not too Late"?
A: As for the title "It's Not Too Late," it's really not as complex as people think. It is really a very simple answer. As long as you still have a breath, it is not too late to give your life to Jesus Christ. As the song 'A Soldiers Story' says, 'All you have to do is open your heart and let him in, He has the answer!'
Q: Prior to the album's released, you were diagnosed with cancer. And you had to cancel many of your shows. Tell us more about what happened. And how are you now?
A: My first Christian album, 'Share The News,' was gaining traction and reached No. 19 on the charts when I started experiencing health problems. The band was practicing, the tour was scheduled, and during an early live performance I experienced a tightness of my vocal cords and throat, which was followed by a small lump on my neck. After a trip to the doctor, my worst fear became a reality. After several tests and two biopsies, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was shortly after that, it became clear that the best option was surgery and within two weeks of that performace the procedure was completed.
Due to the fact the nodes were attached to my vocal cords, and recovery was going to take so long, I had no choice but to pull the CD and shut the tour down. In all honesty, I thought my music career was over for good. For several years, I walked away from music thinking God had other plans for me. It was heartbreaking, but you play the cards you are dealt.
Looking back now, God knew I had other trials ahead and apparently wanted me somewhere other than on the road touring so I could be home to handle what I needed to do. I'm just glad He also decided to bring music back to me at a later date!
Q: On top of that your wife also was sick and passed away. We are so sorry to hear that. How did the Lord sustained you during this time?
A: Though initially devastated by Jennifer's passing, I never doubted that God's arms were wrapped around me during this time. I found comfort in knowing my wife's tasks were done, her pain was ending and He would be there to welcome her. Even in the hospital when she knew the end was near, I witnessed my wife share her belief in the Lord.
She had a small statue of Jesus in her hospital room, and when the lady in the bed next to her would have pain, Jennifer would pass the statue to her and tell the other woman to just hold the statue until the pain passed. Jennifer's faith only boosted mine, and I knew I could not honor her memory by ever doing less than what God expected of me.
Q: Did all of these sufferings influence you in the recording of this album?
A: God has done so much to see me through all the tribulations. I was constantly reminded with ever hurdle I faced, this was not about how much I loved Him, but how much He loved me. He brought me through everything with His divine guidance.
I believe it was His divine intervention that brought me a dream. The dream was so clear in both the images and the message. That dream lead to me writing and performing the new music, and the words from the dream, 'Don't hesitate. It's not too late to ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and savior.' This became the basis for the whole album.
Q: There may be readers who have had suffered through many trials, how will your new album help them? Are there any specific songs on the record that could speak to them?
A: Each song on the record is a testament to the journey I have been on. Every word is my way of sharing my testimony, of how I personally overcame the hurdles we all face. I think it is so important for everyone to know that as long as you invite God into your life, you will never face anything alone. As for a specific song, I like to think each and every one of them was put there to share His word. I hope anyone in need will hear them and be lifted.
Q: You were also a war veteran and you sing about your experience in the song "A Soldier's Story." What are some of struggles that veterans often faced? And how can we help our veterans?
A: 'A Soldiers Story' is very dear to my heart. The Vietnam war was like no other war before, because there was no clear enemy. You were given orders, and regardless of your beliefs, you followed the orders. You understood that the life of every other person around you depended on you following those orders.
I returned from Vietnam, not only with physical scars, but also suffering from PTSD. I was very angry. I was forced to not only face the demons I created in my own mind as a result of those orders, but also returned to a nation that was at war with itself.
Outside of very obvious injuries which take a horrible toll, I think the mental toll of any war makes every soldier change the way they see the world. Illnesses like PTSD sometimes make it impossible for vets returning from wars to ever fully put those memories behind them and return to a normal life. Even if they are able to move forward, those memories leave you changed forever.
As for how to help, I think the most important thing anyone can do is to really listen. Let any soldier know they are not alone. You don't have to agree with war in order to give them respect for following orders. Show them appreciation for the time the conflict stole from their lives, while trying to make the world safer for all of us.
Q: In a way we are all veterans, that is spiritual warriors against Satan and his schemes. In your opinion, how can we prepare ourselves spiritually in facing temptations?
A: I also believe we are all spiritual warriors if we choose to be. I know life throws us curves and temptations on a regular basis. Hold close to the knowledge that God loves all of us and wants us to return to Him. I personally prepare daily by reading His word. I think the Bible is a spiritual guide that holds answers for anyone seeking His guidance through love.
Q: You have been in the music industry for many years, what are some lessons you have learnt along the way?
A: I have traveled many paths throughout the years with my music career. I have known fortune and fame, and have seen those same attributes turn friends to greed and deceit. I have experienced the thrill of 50,000 cheering fans in a stadium, and looked into the same crowds to see 50,000 empty faces. I have walked on hundreds of stages, travelled the world, won awards and have seen my music turn gold and platinum. I have watched the same riches stolen and been penniless for my efforts. But the most important lesson that has stood out and stuck with me through all of the good and bad, is at the end of the day, once the lights go out and the crowds go home, you have to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with the person looking back at you!
Again, thank you so much for allowing me to share with you and your readers. And remember, God loves you and so do I!