In addition to his own work, which includes the hit song “Freedom” from the “Django Unchained” soundtrack, Anthony Hamilton is a sought-after collaborator, recording songs with a wide variety of artists. (Special photo)
ALBANY — Businessman/promoter Gilbert Udoto’s annual Soulfest concert is about the closest thing to an entertainment sure thing as there is in Southwest Georgia. The music extravaganza has been a sellout each of its first three years at a venue — the Albany Civic Center — that has become something of a forgotten entity as the concert business has evolved.
But Udoto may have topped himself for Soulfest 4, which will feature “co-headliners” — and Grammy winners — Anthony Hamilton and Fantasia Barrino, who each will play a full 90-minute show Saturday.
“This is going to be the biggest ever, I believe,” Udoto said of the Soulfest pairing. “You’ve got two of the biggest names in R&B, and one of them (Barrino) is an ‘American Idol’ winner who has won awards on Broadway. The response has been overwhelming, people from all over the Southeast wanting 10 and 20 tickets at a time.”
Hamilton, who won a 2009 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance Grammy for his collaboration on “You’ve Got the Love I Need” with soul legend Al Green, has received nine Grammy nominations, including nods for Best R&B Song (“Pray for Me”), Best R&B Album (“Back to Love,” “The Point of It All”), best Male R&B Vocals (“The Point of It All”) as well as Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance (“Soul Music”).
His smash “Charlene” was also a Top 5 hit.
In addition to his own work, which includes the hit song “Freedom” from the “Django Unchained” soundtrack, Hamilton is a sought-after collaborator, recording songs with a wide variety of artists including Jadakiss, 2pac, Santana, Nappy Roots, Nelly, Blues great Buddy Guy, Young Jeezy, John Rich and Busta Rhymes, to name a few.
Barrino, who won a Best Female R&B Grammy in 2009 for her hit “Bittersweet,” has also received multiple nominations, including Best Female R&B Vocals, Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, and Best Urban Contemporary Album.
The artist now known primarily as Fantasia burst onto the entertainment scene when she was named “American Idol” winner during that popular TV show’s third season. She also won a 2007 Theatre World Award for her portrayal of “Celie” in the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”
Immediately following her “Idol” win, Barrino’s first single, “Believe,” debuted at No. 1 on all popular music charts, and her debut album “Free Yourself” was certified platinum for sales of more than 1 million units.
“The people in Albany and Southwest Georgia said a few years ago they wanted to be entertained, despite the terrible economy,” Udoto, owner of Odyssey Records and nightclubs the Sandtrap and Big Daddy’s Lounge in Albany, said. “I took them at their word and brought the people they wanted to see and hear. But I wanted to make sure (Soulfest) was a night to remember.
“Now we have two headliners, and I expect this to be the biggest show here ever. These two artists were not touring together, but I called their agents and said, ‘This is who the people want to hear.’ I truly believe my reputation is what allowed me to make this show happen. This is proof that you don’t have to be in New York, L.A. or Las Vegas to see a big show. We’ve got one right here in Albany.”
Udoto said a few reserved seating and VIP tickets, which include free admission to the event after-party, are still available “but you’d better hurry and get yours if you don’t want to be left outside on Saturday.” Tickets are available at Odyssey Records, Big Daddy’s, the Sandtrap, Executive Cars, the Civic Center box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
Hosted by comedian MC Lightfoot, Saturday’s show also features Wilson Meadows and the Atlanta Pleasure Band.
Additional information is available by calling (229) 436-9910 or (229) 438-3804.