WHEELING - Jackson, Mississippi's award-winning guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, 29-year-old Jarekus Singleton, will celebrate the release of his Alligater Records debut, Refuse to Lose, with a live performance on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Heritage Music Blues Fest in Wheeling.
Singleton is celebrated as one of the brightest, most exciting young stars on the blues scene today. His cutting-edge, streetwise music - melding contemporary and traditional blues with rock energy and hip-hop wordplay - turns audiences of all ages into devoted fans. With his blazing guitar licks and strong, soulful voice, Singleton brings his up-to-the-minute take on the blues to every song he writes and performs. From ferocious and funky to slow and steamy to smoking hot, Singleton is a young blues master carrying the blues into the future.
The Jarekus Singleton Band has become one of the most popular blues bands in Mississippi, and they are positioned to conquer the national and international scene. They've been tearing up clubs, concert halls and at festivals across the South, and performed twice at the world renowned Chicago Blues Festival. The band has been featured at South Carolina's Lowcountry Blues Festival and Festival of Discovery as well as many other festivals in the South and clubs throughout Mississippi. They're already booked for 2014's Maine's North Atlantic Blues Festival and Florida's Springing the Blues Festival. Jarekus self-released his first CD, Heartfelt, in 2011.
Fans were not the only ones taking notice. Three songs from that CD, I'm Leaving You, Singing The Blues, and Gotta Believe Me, are in regular rotation on B.B. King's Bluesville on XM/Sirius Radio, the most-listened-to blues radio station in the world. But it wasn't just radio, as the rest of the world began paying attention. Singleton was named a "Star On The Rise" by Blues & Rhythm magazine in the UK. Guitar Center named him the 2011 King of the Blues in Mississippi. He received the Jackson Music Award for 2012 Blues Artist of the Year and for 2013 Local Artist of the Year. The Jackson Free Press named him the 2013 Best Local Blues Artist. Jarekus and his band competed in the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis and came away with rave reviews and new fans. Jarekus is endorsed by Clevenger Guitars.
Born into a family of church musicians and vocalists on July 11, 1984 in Clinton, Miss., Jarekus Singleton was immersed in gospel music as a child. Taught by his uncle, Jarekus began playing bass guitar at age nine in his grandfather's church band. He later switched to lead guitar and began to sharpen his instrumental and vocal skills, falling in love with the music of all three Kings (B.B., Albert and Freddie) as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan, rapper Jay-Z and even country artist Brad Paisley. In his late teens, Jarekus pursued a career in basketball, becoming a top-seeded national player in college until an injury took him back to his music full-time. For a short time he performed as a rap artist, writing his own lyrics. Before long though, he began combining his rap wordsmithing with the music of his Mississippi heritage, creating a thoroughly modern, masterfully updated take on the blues.
Living Blues praised Singleton for "blending styles and elements across genres and generations." Audiences at his shows run the gamut from older blues fans to younger rockers and rap aficionados. Knowing from his time on the basketball court that there is no substitute for hard work, Singleton is single-mindedly driven to succeed. And 2014 promises to be a stellar year for him. He's currently in the studio working on his next release, and is set to reach the biggest audience of his career.
"Blues is honest music," according to Singleton, who is determined to put his own stamp on the genre. "I love the blues tradition, and have always been inspired by the masters. But I want to create something for today's audience that is as original and new as those blues masters were when they first started making records. I want to create blues for the 21st century."
The fourteenth annual Heritage Blues Fest kicks off Friday, Aug. 8 with a line up including legendary Matt Guitar Murphy & The Nouveaux Honkies. Jarekus Singleton will perform Saturday from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Heritage Port Amphitheater on the bank of the Ohio River in downtown Wheeling,
For a complete line-up and detailed ticket information for the Heritage Music Blues Fest, visit their web pages at HeritageMusicFest.com.