Greenville’s own Grammy winner brings his powerful tenor to the Peace Center on May 20
Peabo Bryson, whose powerful tenor sound has launched many a tune to the top—or near the top—of the billboard charts, certainly commands an audience.
The Greenville-born-and-raised star, who will take the Peace Center stage for the first time on May 20, also commands an interview, delving into the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard, discussing the finer points of existentialism, and tackling the issue of racial justice before pivoting to talk about what he’s done so well for so long, which is uniting the world through song.
Known for R&B hits such as 1983’s “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love,” a duet with Roberta Flack, and 1984’s solo power ballad, “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again,” the two-time Grammy winner (“Beauty and the Beast”—duet with Celine Dion; “A Whole New World/Aladdin’s Theme”—duet with Regina Belle) is a brand name, yet the 71-year-old maintains a disarmingly down-to-earth perspective.
“Fame is only real for other people, not you,” he says. So, when he steps into the spotlight on May 20, he’ll deliver the only thing he can: himself.
“I’m just gonna be me, the old and new,” he says. “I’m going to leave no stone unturned. I’ll give it my all.”
Bryson has put 12 songs in the Billboard Top 100, three in the Top 10, and watched one go all the way to number one (“A Whole New World”). He remembers fondly his childhood days watching R&B and soul legends such as Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke on their tour stops in Greenville.
“My mother was a great music lover, and every great R&B artist of the era I saw live,” he remembers. “And it affected me. The music transcended every social ill I was aware of, whether based in race, religion, politics . . . and this was during segregation. I’d never seen a minister or an educator command that kind of unity and calm.”
The experiences captivated him. “It was a kind of fellowship and leadership that attracted me as a young boy,” he says. “In the hands of the right person, music is a powerful tool.”
He says he’s looking forward to returning to Greenville, the city he credits with shaping him into the man he wanted to become.
“I’m breaking down the stereotypical idea that you can never go home. In a way, I’ve always wanted to come back home. Where you are, what you’ve accomplished, is undeniable, and after you reach it, you can go home and share it with those you grew up with, love, and admire.”
Don’t Miss It
The Legendary Voice of Love: Peabo Bryson
8pm, Saturday, May 20
Peace Center, 300 S. Main St., Greenville
Winning Peabo Bryson Duets
Bryson won Grammy awards for two Disney movie duets
- “Beauty and the Beast” with Celine Dion, 1992 (from Beauty and the Beast)
- “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle, 1993 (From Aladdin)
Other hits include
- “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love For You” with Roberta Flack (1983)
- “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” (1984)