Longtime soul and blues artist Latimore is taking the stage with other legendary performers during the third annual Augusta Blues Festival on Friday, March 2.
The 8 p.m. concert at Bell Auditorium will also feature Klass Band, Mel Waiters, Sir Charles Jones and Clarence Carter. Tickets can be purchased at the James Brown Arena box office, online at www.georgialinatix.com or by calling (877) 4AUGTIX.
The show is part of the Blues Is Alright tour, Lati-more said during a telephone interview from his home in Riverview, Fla.
“The performers on this tour, we’ve worked together quite a number of times over the years,” he said. “We’re friends on the stage and off the stage. We truly enjoy performing with one another. That sort of comes across to the people, too. We welcome this opportunity every year to get to work together. We do compete with one another in a way, friendly competition. We’re going to get up there and have a good time.”
Latimore, whose full name is Benjamin “Benny” Latimore, said he will sing some of his older and newer music. He has performed in Augusta several times and also had the chance to work with James Brown.
“I did a short tour with him quite a few number of years ago. I knew him very well. I had a good working relationship with him,” he said.
Latimore said he and Brown had a mutual contact in the music industry, Henry Stone, who worked in Miami.
Latimore, 72, said he started singing in church as a child, but he didn’t envision a music career until he went to college. He attended Tennessee State University with plans to become an English teacher, he said.
“The music bug bit me. I started singing with a group on campus, and it was almost like I became addicted to something. I was addicted to music. I wanted to be in show business. It wasn’t something that I chose. It chose me,” he said.
He eventually dropped out of school to perform with a local group. Since then, he’s enjoyed a steady music career and performed all over the world.
“I keep performing because it’s a part of me. It’s been something that’s been very rewarding for me. I can’t envision doing anything else. I’m not going to retire. I’m going to be doing it until I drop,” he said.
Latimore said his music is deeply rooted in the blues, though he’s probably not considered a traditional blues musician. He loves the blues because it’s about real life, he said.
“It expresses a full range of emotions and feelings... The blues can express everything. The blues are life as it is, not what we would like it to be or what we would imagine it to be. You have to live and experience certain things in order to fully appreciate what the blues is about. I think most of the music we hear nowadays is a leaf on the branch of the tree whose roots are in the blues,” he said.
The singer also writes music and plays the keyboard.
“I’m on all sides of the music. It’s hard for me to say that I’m a musician that sings or a singer that plays. I wear both hats,” he said.
Latimore is promoting his new CD, Ladies Choice, which was released a few months ago. His current hit single is A Woman’s Love. The next single to be released is Big Ol’ Pretty Girl, which celebrates plus-size women who enjoy being themselves, he said.