Daily Distraction: Norman Whiteside performs for an audience of one

A Columbus soul legend delivers a once-in-a-lifetime performance for a vinyl collector

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Norman Whiteside

Earlier this week, Morley, a native of Japan currently living in New York City, passed through Columbus in the midst of an Ohio soul and funk pilgrimage, during which he also visited Akron, Dayton, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Springfield, where he met Pleasure Seekers singer Arlin Tolliver.

Morley, reached via Instagram, said that he has been collecting funk and soul vinyl LPs for more than 30 years, realizing at one point that a number of them were released by Ohio-based labels. These included Columbus' Capitol City Soul and Owl Records, which first released Wee's You Can Fly On My Aeroplane, now considered an underground soul classic.

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Prior to making the trip to Columbus, Morley reached out to Norman Whiteside, asking if the Wee singer might be available to autograph his copy of Aeroplane. Whiteside obliged, and also promised Morley a solo concert, which the traveler initially dismissed as unlikely. "Of course, I thought it was just a lip-service," he said.

But Whiteside actually delivered, performing a handful of Wee songs for Morley, who posted a portion of the set to his Instagram account.

"I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me," Morley said of the experience. "I don’t know how to express how touched I was. I was in in tears. His performance was simply wonderful."