But a chance encounter in a church with Ron Kennedy, a former member of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, led to an interview with Phil Casden, an R&B DJ at oldies WNJC Sewell. N.J.
An English journalist subsequently contacted Tate and then called Jerry Ragovoy to interview him about his work with the singer.
Ragovoy recalls. "I said to [the writer]. 'You know, I've been looking for Howard for about 10 years. I can't find him.' [He said], 'Really? I spoke to him yesterday!' I said, 'What? You've got to be kidding!'"
Ragovoy, who now lives in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, invited Tate to lunch while he was in New York and asked him to visit his Funk Foundation Studio.
"I didn't even know it I could sing," Tate confesses.
"I said, 'Why don't you fly down and let me hear what you sound like?'" Ragovoy says. "I had no idea what to expect. There is a reality: The older you get, your voice goes. He opened his mouth — 1 couldn't believe what I was hearing. I said, 'My God, Howard, nothing has changed!'"
Using his own money and studio, Ragovoy embarked on a new album with Tate. Ragovoy, whose songs are published by Tune Room In/ASCAP, wrote or co-wrote 11 of the album's 12 songs. (A cover of Prince's "Kiss" fills out the set.)
As the album was in progress, Tate began performing live. He was introduced onstage at the San Francisco Blues Festival by one avowed fan, Elvis Costello.
Tate says, "I said, 'Elvis, would you write me a song?' Just like that. 'Cause I knew he was a great writer. He said, `Soon as I get home, Howard, I'm gonna write it.' "
The Costello/Ragovoy composition "Either Side of the Same Town" was the last song cut for Rediscovered.