Auricle hosts 'A Night of Old-School R&B'
The first time Roslyn Pratt soloed at Mount Calvary Second Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, she was all of 7 years old. She sang the challenging hymn, "Yield not to temptation, for yielding is a sin."
"I remember looking right above their heads," she said of the expectant congregation that Sunday morning. "I didn't want to look in their faces 'cause I was nervous."
With age and experience, Pratt would become a confident and skilled gospel singer with numerous European tours under her belt.
But it was in her bedroom, through clunky headphones plugged into her record player, that she immersed herself in the music she really loved.
"I could have listened to James Brown forever and ever," Pratt, a 1974 East Canton High School grad, recalled with a chuckle. "Sly and the Family Stone, 'Hot Fun in the Summetime.' Gladys Knight. All of the Temptations, all of Motown, all of Stevie Wonder. The Jackson Five, 'Who's Loving You?'"
"I'd sit there listening till my mom would say, 'Okay, enough music. Go do something!' "
Known and admired in Canton as a singer of gospel music, Pratt is about to take a 180-degree turn. On Jan. 24 at downtown Canton's Auricle concert venue, she will perform the "old-school R&B" songs of her youth.
"This concert is all my favorite songs, the ones I played 50 times a day on record," she said.
Among the evening's 22 selections will be "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by the Temptations, "Purple Rain" by Prince, and many other classics.
This is the first time she has publicly performed songs other than gospel in her hometown.
After graduating from high school at 17 and moving to Columbus to attend Ohio State University, "I jumped over to the other side and (began) singing R&B and jazz in clubs," she said. "At 17, I wasn't even old enough to be in those clubs."
Recently, Pratt decided to spread her wings a bit and treat her hometown friends and fans to an evening of music from outside the church.
"It dawned on me that I love this music. It's a part of who I am, I'm sharing my gift and I'm making people feel good," Pratt, 56, said.
"I don't think God is mad at me," she said with a warm laugh. "After all, he gave me this gift. I talked it over with him."
At The Auricle, Pratt will be accompanied by pianist Rob Johnson, bassist Jimel Stinson, drummer Chase Williams, and the backing vocal trio of of Tamkia Johnson, Starkla Knight and Ashley Kindell.
Pratt spoke fondly of Johnson, who doubles as her musical director. "He kind of reads my mind. He knows what I'm thinking and I never have to say it. Every singer wants a keyboard player who does that," she said. "He's skilled beyond measure and so approachable. It's like having your little brother sitting over there."
Reach Dan at 330-580-8306 or email@example.com.
On Twitter: @dkaneREP