Jul 02, 2014 - PRENTICE VINCENT MAKES SINGING DEBUT WITH THE COLORS OF ME AT SUNDAY'S JAZZ DEPOT CONCERT
Known for years as a keyboardist and songwriter, Prentice Vincent is now ready to show the world that he can sing, too. In his debut concert as a vocalist as well as a keyboard player, Vincent's offering Jazz Depot patrons a show aptly described by its title, The Colors of Me.
“It's going to be every style of music that I really appreciate,” he says. “That culls down to R&B, gospel, jazz, pop. I'll open up with a little bit of my first album [2011's After the Fact], which is urban gospel, and then I'll transition into some funk-style music, kind of pop, and we'll switch it up into a little jazz vibe. I'll do a couple of tribute songs, to Stevie Wonder and Bobby Caldwell, and one of the Beatles' songs. And I'll do an illustration of a moment with me and my writing, show people basically how everything starts.”
It's hard to pinpoint where Vincent's life in music started. The son of a preacher, Vincent grew up in his parents' Tulsa church. But he was a shy kid, desperately uneasy about singing in public.
“My dad, who passed last year, was pastor of the Fellowship Church for over 30 years,” he notes. “I have three brothers and a sister, and we all had to sing. But I converted over to playing piano and organ around the age of 13 or 14. He had a little TV network that would come on locally, and every time he did that, he wanted someone – my brothers, or my sister, or my mom – to sing. He never chose me, because I was playing keyboards. So I got out of it every time.” He laughs. “Being shy,” he adds, “I didn't think I could do it anyway.”
Secular music wasn't particularly welcome in the Vincent home, so it was quite a revelation when Prentice discovered the music of Stevie Wonder. “I had a little black radio when I was a kid,” he remembers. “I was afraid of the dark, and the only thing that would allow me to sleep without being afraid was listening to music. So I'd turn it up just loud enough and lay it right by my ear; I'd sleep with that radio as though it were a teddy bear. Then, one night, I heard Stevie Wonder on it.”
The station he'd tuned into was what he describes as “an easy-listening, soft-rock station.” He tuned in the next night, wanting to hear Stevie Wonder again. He eventually did, but he also became acquainted with other acts, a few of which will be the focus of his tributes on Sunday. “So many things have happened since then that I've never exactly kept up with what day it was when I decided that music was what I wanted to do,” he says. “But hearing Stevie Wonder's voice and his music – I remember that pretty vividly.”
As a young adult, Vincent relocated to Las Vegas and began playing, he recalls, “all over the strip, pretty much every major hotel.” He also continued performing gospel music, working with the famed Mountaintop Faith Ministries in Vegas. Then, he connected with jazz guitarist John Dougherty, who was leaving a faculty position at the Berklee College of Music in Boston to move to Vegas. They hit it off, and Dougherty offered to teach Vincent music theory if the young keyboardist would perform in his jazz trio.
“Every Sunday, after I played at church, I went to his house, and we ran through a host of jazz standards,” remembers Vincent. “That's where I really cut my teeth in the jazz field.” After hearing some of Vincent's own compositions, Dougherty also advised him to begin singing.
“He told me, 'Your music will sound so much better if you sing to it,'” says Vincent. “The crazy thing is, I never told him I could sing. I didn't even know I could, to be honest.” He laughs again. “But he had such good intuition about music, that I guess he could tell from my tone of voice.” Sunday, Vincent takes his late mentor's advice, in a show that also features bassist Marcus James, drummer Cedric Wright, and vocalists Tara Payne and Anthony Bailey. Oklahoma City-based saxophonist Moe Williams is, says Vincent, “a phenomenal musician and my special featured guest.”
Prentice Vincent's The Colors of Me is set to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 6, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014 Summer Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.