The people’s Peabo, at Pepperdine


He’s right up there — one of the big seventies crooners– along with Al Green, Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, and Luther Vandross. These heartthrob-inducing balladeers sent soulful glissandos down our spines in densely produced R&B recordings of the 1970s. So I am delighted that Peabo Bryson (“Feel The Fire, “I’m So Into You”) will appear at Pepperdine University‘s intimate Smothers Theatre. The artistic director Rebecca Carson has carved a space for showcasing mature versions of pop singers of this caliber and vintage. (Pepperdine’s opening night features Graham Nash, long sold out.

Possessing a rich, almost operatic voice (New York Times music critic Jon Pareles tagged him as the “Pavarotti of soul singers”), Bryson is a two-time GRAMMY and Oscar Award–winner. He has released more than 20 albums, a pinnacle being “Reaching for the Sky” in 1978 recorded at Capitol Records. With his follow-up LP “Crosswinds” (gold,1978), he delivered singles, “Feel the Fire” and “I’m So Into You”, now considered as R&B classics.

His duets with Natalie Cole—“What You Won’t Do for Love”— and Roberta Flack “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love,” a Top 15 pop smash –—earned Bryson the tag “King of Balladeers.”

But it was two songs for Disney animated films that earned Peabo his two Grammys. The first was 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” with international pop singer Celine Dion which was a Number One pop hit. The very next year, Peabo struck gold again receiving another Grammy for “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” from Aladdin which he performed with Regina Belle. Both songs won Oscars for “Best Song.” That did not hurt him either. More recent collaborators have been Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga on “We Kiss in the Shadows,”; Melissa Manchester, and Kenny G.

Peabo Bryson in concert | Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu | Oct 22

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