After 45 years asking the eternal question "Do you love me?" Sylvester Potts is discovering that the hit he recorded in 1962 with the Contours still has some life.
The Contours, touring on the symphony circuit, will present a program that includes Do You Love Me and other Motown hits Saturday with the Augusta Symphony.
Mr. Potts said hearing the song accompanied by the ocean of sound produced by an orchestra has been an amazing, and sometimes humbling, experience.
"You just can't imagine," he said in a recent telephone interview. "It's even more awesome than I thought it would be. I mean, we've done these songs so many times, but you hear that sound, those strings, and man, it's just incredible."
Mr. Potts joined the Contours a few years after the group formed in Detroit in the late 1950s and a few years before it recorded its enduring Motown hit, Do You Love Me.
"That song was supposed to be for the Temptations," he said with a laugh. "But they didn't show up, so (Motown founder) Berry Gordy gave it to us."
Over the years, the song has proved to have some legs. Mr. Potts said the response the tune got in 1962, when it rocketed to the top of the pop charts, was amazing, but nothing like when the Dirty Dancing generation got a hold of it.
"Dirty Dancing made it brand new again," he said. "We sold a million copies of that song in 1962. We sold 2 million in 1988. Because of Dirty Dancing we went more places and saw things we only dreamed of in the early days."
The symphony gigs came about when Mr. Potts and the group's manager began to notice a lot of former contemporaries finding new life on the orchestra circuit.
"We saw friends doing this," Mr. Potts said. "People like Smokey (Robinson), and the Miracles, who had been doing it for a while. So we decided to do it and concentrate on songs from Motown. We do some of our stuff, but we also do some Smokey, some Stevie Wonder - things like that."
Acknowledging that being backed by an orchestra is a new world for an older act like the Contours, Mr. Potts said the secret is to apply the same model for success that worked when the group was young, hungry and fighting to make a name.
"It has always been about the audience," he said.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: The Contours with the Augusta Symphony
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.
CALL: (706) 826-4705