Blues music presents a challenge to its young, emerging artists. How do you bring something new to the table while retaining the integrity of the genre? Jarekus Singleton seems to have found the answer to that question. The Mississippi-based singer/guitarist puts his modern take on Blues with his latest album, Refuse To Lose. Released by legendary label Alligator Records, Refuse To Lose finds Singleton tossing in elements of R&B and Rock with the wordplay of Hip-Hop. On Saturday, June 21, the college basketball player-turned-Bluesman will perform at Zydeco. Showtime is 9 p.m. Recently, we caught up with Singleton by phone from his home in Clinton, Miss.
Brent Thompson: Jarekus, thanks for your time today. Your sound has several elements that compliment traditional Blues. Do you try to blend genres or is your sound a natural outpouring of all you have absorbed through the years?
Jarekus Singleton: I really don’t try to do it. I think it’s just a testament to how I grew up and the influences that I had. My mom played The Jackson Five, Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan and all the Soul and R&B. Hip-Hop was my culture and I listened to Jazz and Funk with my uncles. All of those were actually in my soul once I got to the pen and pad. Then it just comes out of you – I’m just trying to be Jarekus.
BT: What a musical education you had thanks to your family.
JS: I didn’t know the significance of it then, but I really know and respect the significance of it now. It helped mold me into who I am.
BT: Blues seems to thrive overseas. Are you finding success outside of the U.S.?
JS: Oh, definitely. We are already having a lot of good radio airplay overseas in places like Croatia and Argentina. The only thing I knew about Croatia before now is that [former NBA player] Tony Kukoc is from there [laughs]. To be having music played there is an unbelievable thing.
BT: It’s great that you can stay based in your hometown of Clinton, Miss.
JS: My family is still here and I still have a lot of stuff in the soil of Mississippi. It’s always good to be able to come back home.
Tickets to the show are $10 – $15 day of the show – and can be purchased at www.zydecobirmingham.com