Interview: Catching up with Jarekus Singleton

Blues music presents a challenge to its young, emerging artists. How do you bring something new to the table while retaining the Jarekus-Singleton-Photo-Paul-Natkin-2integrity 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

About Brent Thompson

Brent Thompson is a contributing writer for You Hear This and WELD.