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Jarekus Singleton finds his gospel in the blues

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Jarekus Singleton is a hot young talent on the blues scene -- where 30 qualifies as "young."

But mostly he's just happy to have an opportunity to be playing at all.

"I never even paid attention to (age) for the simple reason I'm so happy to have the opportunity to do what I'm doing," says Singleton, a native of Clinton, Miss., who was a standout basketball player for Southern Mississippi University before an ankle injury ended his career. "I remember all the days I was playing for five people, six people, 10 people and a lot of chairs, when I was at Best Buy and WalMart handing out flyers, going to local clubs doing open mic nights just trying to get people to come to my shows.

"So right now I'm so happy just to play for people who are happy to go and hear music. That's the way I look at it."

Singleton, who's working on a follow-up to his 2013 national debut album, "Refuse to Lose," is the product of twin musical influences. He grew up singing and playing in his grandfather's Church of God in Christ church, but he also had an uncle who was just a few years older and "was a music head. He would take me out driving when I was younger and introduce all these new CDs to me -- Albert King, Prince, D'Angelo, James Brown. He listened to everything, man. We would just drive around and listen to all this different music."

Singleton's path, of course, wound up being closer to his uncle than his grandfather, and while he says his family doesn't "give me any friction" about playing the blues, some of his relatives aren't flocking to his shows, either.

"They don't give me a hard time about it, but they don't come to the shows because it's against church doctrine," Singleton explains. "But I have a big family, so a lot of my family do come to my shows. And even the ones who don't come are very supportive. I'm not concerned about it at all because I'm a grown man and have a daughter of my own who's two years old, And I do respect the church and what my grandfather built and what he started.

"But if my grandfather was alive right now and knew I was playing blues music, he might be tracking me down with a hammer. Or a gun," Singleton adds with a laugh.

Jarekus Singleton

8 p.m. Thursday, June 11.

Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.

Tickets are $12-$20.

Call 248-858-9508 or visit www.atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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