FAIRFIELD — A bevy of musicals, such as “Jersey Boys” and a love of Motown, inspired actor Dedrick Weathersby to tackle the role of the great singer James Brown.
“Remembering James Brown” stops Saturday at Vino Godfather’s in Vallejo. Weatherbsy, a Texas native who now calls Vallejo home, launched the show about six months ago and estimated he’s done between 14 and 16.
“You have transported me. I’ve seen James Brown and you have him spot on,” is one of the most common reactions he gets to the show.
“You are not an impersonator. You embody James. You bring him to life,” is another common sentiment.
Weathersby said it’s his duty to stay true to the music and the man.
His mindset: How would you feel if someone was doing your story? “I act like he’s in the audience,” he said.
Weathersby’s father was a disc jockey in Marshall, Texas. As a young boy, he was allowed to touch his father’s record collection – except for James Brown.
“I was so engulfed in Michael Jackson (at the time),” he said.
He has come to understand his father’s explanation about James Brown’s role in the life of black men and music.
His favorite Brown tune to sing is “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
It pays homage to strong women, no matter the nationality, he said.
Brown had to defend himself to people who wondered how he could sing the song while facing domestic violence allegations, Weathersby said.
Weathersby knew at a young age he wanted to be a singer. Living in the Texas Bible Belt, he said he was viewed more as a dancer, public speaker and actor.
“I didn’t have the voice until I went to college,” he said. “I found my soul and voice when I went away from Longview (Texas),” he said.
Theater brought him to the Golden State. He landed roles in “Dream Girls,” “Hairspray” and “Rent,” to name a few.
He started out as understudy in “Tarzan” and ended up with the role of Turk after the lead actor got injured.
He launched “Remembering James Brown” after several theaters turned him down.
San Francisco’s Boxcar Theater was agreeable to letting him use the site as long as he would be part of The Speakeasy.
“I’d never done immersive theater,” he said. “The storyline is pretty cool. It was amazing to be a part of that.”
Weathersby said he would love to see the show on Broadway and ultimately in London’s West End.
‘Remembering James Brown’
starring Dedrick Weathersby
- 2 p.m. Saturday
- Vino Godfather, 500 Walnut Ave., Vallejo
Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages. She also covers Suisun City and general assignment. Reach her at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.