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Sledge replaces Seals at GPAC Feb. 2

By Erica Vaught
Asst. Around The Town Editor

Percy Sledge performed before a full house Feb. 2 as part of Homecoming week at UNCP.             

Sledge replaced Dan and Jim Seals who were forced to cancel their scheduled performance after the death of a close friend.

Sledge, also known as “The Golden Voice of Soul,” walked onto stage to a cheering audience.            
The 66-year-old singer and songwriter performed several of his classics including “Warm and Tender Love” and “Take Time to Know Her.”            

Sledge sang “In the Midnight Hour” in honor of his late friend whom he “performed with many times,” Wilson Pickett.           

Sledge also sang “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” in remembrance of a man he called “his idol,” Otis Redding.

Sledge also dedicated the song “Love Comes Knocking” from his album “Blue Night” to a little boy that he met at the Fayetteville Regional Airport before the concert.            

“His mama said he loves to shake his hips to it,” Sledge said just before he performed the song.

Sledge didn’t just sing and dance, he also kept the audience laughing with his jokes in between songs.            
“If Percy ain't grinnin', there's something wrong,” he told the audience.            

Sledge ended the concert, down on his knees, with the famous song “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Towards the end of the song, Sledge said a prayer to thank Jesus for blessing him throughout his career.            
“I want to thank my band, my fans,” Sledge said halfway through the concert, “but most of all, I want to thank God.”

After the concert, Sledge signed autographs and took pictures with fans.            
Sledge, who grew up in Leighton, Ala., began singing when he was 10 years old at his church.           

Percy Backstage

“I grew up in the south,” Sledge said, “so I was around country music a lot, like Hank Williams, Sr. and Marty Robbins.”             Sledge said that he was also inspired by the Temptations, the Drifters, and the Platters when he was a teenager.

As for the music of today, Sledge said that even though he has met different people of different genres, he is “still the same ‘ole guy.”  “I never change styles,” Sledge said.  Sledge also noted that his fans were his strongest inspiration and that he is still having fun playing music.
This is actually Sledge’s second appearance at UNCP; he performed in GPAC in 2002. He said that he has noticed the area has grown, but the people and their smiles are still just as warm.            

Most fans know Sledge for his hit “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which reached number one on the Billboard Music Charts in 1966.            

“The reason it is a timeless classic,” Sledge said, “is because it is a true song from my heart.”           

The Fans            
There was a variety of fans, both young and old, at the concert Feb. 2.

“It’s a family thing,” said Amanda, a 22-year-old who attended the event with her family. “My parents introduced me to his music.”            
“I’ve been dancing with Percy for the last hundred years! I have seen him three times,” said Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education Dr. Reginald Oxendine, Sr.                       

Lytena Phillips, 31, is from Lumberton and has had an experience that few can only share.

“The first time I saw Percy was when I was 6,” she said.            
“I had the chance to go into his dressing room and I met his parents.  I also gave him a kiss on the cheek.”           

Phillips also saw him when she was 18 at Cagney's in Fayetteville.  “I was sitting on the steps by the stage,” she said, “and Percy sat down beside me and we sang 'Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay.”


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Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2007
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