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Musicians with SC roots headline 2021 Newberry Opera House lineup

Known for bringing in talent from around the world, Newberry Opera House this season is hosting performances by many musicians with South Carolina roots.

From Grammy winner Peabo Bryson and singer-songwriter Edwin McCain, both of Greenville, to regional stars like Reggie Deas of Newberry, the historic opera house is hosting a lineup of popular musicians from around the state in 2021.

Deas Guyz Orchestra, January 29 & May 7

Newberry residents may remember Reggie Deas as a football player at Newberry High School and Newberry College. He would go on to become an educator in Hilton Head, but throughout his life, music was always important.

“My dad had a band,” Deas recalls. “He kind of turned me on to the old school music – Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Brook Benton, Nat King Cole. He told me that was the music I should be listening to. In the band I have now, we do Nat King Cole, Luther Vandross, and so many of those favorites.”

The Deas Guyz Orchestra was founded by Newberry native Reggie Deas.

His latest musical adventure is Deas Guyz Orchestra, which has strings and horns added to his regular dance band. The orchestra includes a former violinist with the Lexington Kentucky Philharmonic, concertmaster of the Boston Lyric Opera and Ballet and a saxophonist from the US Marine Corp band.

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Peabo Bryson, February 13

Greenville native and Grammy award winner Peabo Bryson.

Peabo Bryson remembers his mother, Marie Bryson, taking him to performances at the Greenville Auditorium. “I bet I saw Sam Cooke 15 times. I saw Jackie Wilson, all the greats.”

By the time Bryson was five or six years old, he was singing along with the performers from his seat. “People in the audience would turn around and say, ‘Listen to that little boy sing!’ he remembers. “I knew then that music was going to be my life.”

Perhaps most famous for the Grammy winning themes for Disney’s Beauty & The Beast and Aladdin, Bryson earned his title “The Voice of Love” for his impassioned love songs such as Can You Stop the Rain, If Ever You’re In My Arms Again and duet Tonight, I Celebrate My Love with Roberta Flack.

ColaJazz: Cupid Swings, February 14

Under the leadership of Mark Rapp, The Little Big Band is comprised of some of the Midlands’ best jazz artists from saxophones, trombone, trumpet, drums, piano, bass and two incredible vocalists.

Expect iconic love songs during the February 15 performance, including one of Rapp’s favorites, My Funny Valentine. “It is required playing on Valentine’s Day,” Rapp says. “I like this tune because the lyrics talk about loving someone who may not be what society deems as perfect, but you love them so and don’t want them to change.“

The Blue Dogs, February 20

Acoustic guitarist Bobby Houck and upright bassist Hank Futch grew up near Florence, SC where they met at Cub Scouts. Now based in Charleston, Futch talks about their Southern influence. “Growing up with a dad who sang Bluegrass and Gospel and Classic Country songs, it is definitely evident in the songs that I write…I’m Country as a turnip green.”

Adds Houck, “Like anybody else that grew up in the South when we did, we listened to Southern Rock. In 1975, we were 10 years old and Lynard Skynard was a major band. Obviously, Marshall Tucker Band and Charlie Daniels were also huge. It was like the pinnacle of Southern Rock. You are so impressionable when you are 10-14. It makes us a Country Rock band from the South.”

These diverse influences make up the perfect Southern musical stew that is The Blue Dogs, sparking songs like Cosmic Cowboy.

Dick Goodwin & His Big Band, February 28

Dick Goodwin is synonymous with music in the Midlands. The headliner for the New Year’s Eve concert at Newberry Opera House for more than a decade, Goodwin returns to perform a diverse mix of music.

Goodwin came to the University of South Carolina in the early 70s to start the doctoral program for composition. He pulls from his fellow retired music professors, area music educators, and people that are associated with the SC Philharmonic to make up his Big Band.

“We don’t exclusively do music from the Big Band Era,” Goodwin says. “In the past we have performed Bill Bailey Want You Please Come Home, which was written over 119 years ago. John Wilkerson and Kristi Hood will do selections from the Great American Songbook – the Sinatra era if you will. But we will also perform pieces that I have just written to feature our amazing instrumentalists. I’m really proud of the folks that I have in the group.”

Edwin McCain, December 10

Greenville native Edwin McCain returned to the area a few year ago and has nurtured the area’s music scene supporting local songwriters.

The master storyteller and musician will, of course, perform I’ll Be and You Can Not Ask For More, but will also bring sincere and funny selections.

Want to go?

Newberry Opera House, 1201 McKibben St, Newberry, SC 29108, (803) 276-6264

For a full list of performances and to purchase tickets, visit NewberryOperaHouse.com.

Note: Newberry Opera House is implementing safety protocols including wearing masks throughout the performance and reduced capacity seating.

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