REMEMBERING JAMES - The Life And Music Of James Brown Makes East Bay Premiere
A bevy of musicals, such as "Jersey Boys" and a love of Motown, inspired actor Dedrick Weathersby to tackle the role of the great singer James Brown.
"Remembering James" runs Friday through Sunday in August at the renovated Martinez Campbell Theater in Martinez California. Weatherbsy, a Longview Texas native who now calls San Francisco Bay Area home, launched the show about six months ago and estimated he's done between 14 and 16 successful shows, all of which were Sold Out accept 1.
"You have transported me. I've seen James Brown live and you have him spot on," is one of the most common reactions he gets to the show.
"You are not an impersonator. You embody James. You bring him to life," is another common sentiment.
Weathersby said it's his duty to stay true to the music and the man. His Musical Director Will Roc, echoed the same while speaking on the musical component of the show. "I grew up on this music and i must give it justice; this is the reason why i started playing the piano".
Weathersby's mindset: How would you feel if someone was doing your story? "I act like James Brown is in the audience," he said.
Weathersby's father was a disc jockey in Marshall, Texas. As a young boy, he was allowed to touch his father's record collection - except for James Brown.
"I was so engulfed in Michael Jackson (at the time)," he said.
He has come to understand his father's explanation about James Brown's role in the life of black men and music.
His favorite Brown tune to sing is "It's a Man's Man's Man's World."
It pays homage to strong women, no matter the nationality, he said.
Weathersby knew at a young age he wanted to be a singer. Living in the Texas Bible Belt, he said he was viewed more as a dancer, public speaker and actor.
"I didn't have the voice until I went to college at now closed Lon Morris, the oldest two year college in TX at that time," he said. "I found my soul and voice when I went away from Longview (Texas),".
Theater brought him to the Golden State. He landed roles in "Dream Girls," "Hairspray" and "Rent," to name a few.
He started out as understudy in "Tarzan" and ended up with the role of Turk after the lead actor got injured.
He launched "Remembering James"- The Life and Music of James Brown after several theaters turned him down.
San Francisco's Boxcar Theater was agreeable to presenting the show, apart of their motto of diversity within Bay Area arts.
In addition to the show itself, Weathersby has added talented Bay Area artist to the Cast. Donna Marie will take on the role as Velma Warren Brown, James Brown first wife. Kyle Goldman will take on the role as Ben Bart, James manager/promter before his passing in 1968.
Weathersby said he would love to see the show on Broadway and ultimately with a residency at a popular Las Vegas Casino.
'Remembering James' - The Life and Music of James Brown (A New Musical)
starring Dedrick Weathersby
- 7:30 p.m. Friday 08/16, 2:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. Saturday 08/17, 2:30 p.m. Sunday 08/18
- Martinez Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St, Martinez, CA 94553