A musical tribute dedicated to the memory of the late George Perkins will put the spotlight on nine talented gospel groups Saturday night at the L.M. Lockhart Community Center at 290 Martin Luther King Dr. in Denham Springs.
Tickets to the concert, which will be headlined by Grammy nominated Timothy Britten and Shabach and national recording artist James Bolton of the Bolton Brothers, will begin at 6 p.m.
“Due to the flood on Aug. 13, the musical tribute in honor of the late George Perkins was postponed,” said his daughter Theresa Perkins, the show’s promoter.
“The time has come once again where family and friends will honor my father, who was a beloved community leader, a man of integrity who took stances for the equal rights of others, an icon, a civic, business leader, a legend and well known for his music.”
The elder Perkins was born in the city of Walker and relocated to Hammond in 1979, where he immediately became a community leader in the Hammond area.
He joined Greenfield Missionary Baptist Church where he served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, a member of the male chorus, co-chairman of the board of deacons and was in charge of the church's video recording, his daughter said.
She continued, saying Perkins was an insurance sales representative and later a cable TV franchise owner by trade, but he was best known as one of the originators of the Tangipahoa Black Festival that began in 1984. In 1987, the name was changed to the Tangipahoa Parish Black Heritage Festival.
After the name change, Perkins and other leaders of the organization decided they needed a permanent facility and contacted the parish school system to purchase a boarded up school on 7.3 acres of land that was left over from the era of integration.
Over the years, the building was been renovated, and it has become the Tangipahoa Parish African American Heritage Museum and Veterans Archive.
“He could be found there on most days working in whatever capacity in which he was needed – from acting as tour guide to researching records to taking on kitchen duty. He also served his community in other ways,” Theresa Perkins said.
She added he was a member of the advisory board for North Oaks Medical Center and served as the first black councilman for District 3 in the city of Hammond and later served as an assistant to state Rep. Henry “Tank” Powell.
His daughter said Perkins was also a member of the Masonic Order Prince Hall affiliation, the past worshipful master of Oak Grove Lodge No. 117 in Hammond and a grand officer of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Lodge for the state of Louisiana.
“My father was a man of many talents and music was his passion,” Theresa Perkins said. “He wrote and produced many songs including ‘Cryin’ in the Streets,’ his number one hit, which sold over a million copies and provided him the opportunity to perform at the Apollo Theater.”
She said while the song was on the charts, he performed all over the South, while continuing his career in the insurance business, retiring from secular music around the turn of the 80’s but still singing gospel music in his local church.
“He was the lead singer of the gospel quartet group George Perkins and The Voices of Harmony that included me, his nephew Walter Bell, Eric Dangerfield, Marshall Jackson, Adrien Berry, Mark Cook, and Leo Dickens,” Theresa Perkins said. “Truly, he has left us with a legacy that will never be forgotten and must be continued.”
The Gospel Explosion Musical Tribute Saturday night will feature many other gospel groups and artists such as The Lighthouse Singers, The Inspired Singers, Pastor BJ & Company of Baton Rouge, Marvin Brown and God Anointed of Meridian, Mississippi, The Voices of Harmony featuring Howard Thompson, Li’l Blessings of Hammond, Evangelist Rose Pittman, and U’Nique of Denham Springs.
In honor of Perkins, toys will be given to children under the age of 12 who are in attendance.
Tickets may be purchased at Buddy Stewart’s Rock Shop in Baton Rouge and Stan Hebert’s Music Shoppe in Hammond. For more information, call (225) 394-7200.