The Southern Miss community was reunited with one of its biggest stars for the homecoming edition of the WUSM Tailgate Concert Series, as former Southern Miss basketball player Jarekus Singleton returns to make an appearance on campus at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.
Only this time, Singleton carried a guitar rather than a basketball and sang the blues rather than scoring points for the Golden Eagles.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal feeling, because I spent five of my years there,” Singleton said about returning to the campus to perform for the Southern Miss community. “You know, I went from boyhood to a being a man. That transition was a very important part of my life.”
Singleton, according to Alligator Records, brings a terrific youthful energy and creativity to the blues, with his cutting-edge sound melding blues and rock with hip-hop wordplay. He creates unexpected and memorable rhymes and images – a true wordsmith who writes like a rapper while playing and singing like a high-energy bluesman.
“Alligator Records sent me a copy of his CD and I thought ‘wow this is great,’” said Justin Martin, general manager for WUSM. “This is really good rock, funky-soul blues. Alligator’s been talking to us about doing a show together. Opportunity came up and we said ‘yeah let’s do it.’”
During his basketball career, Singleton became a top national player in college. He led the nation in scoring at William Carey University and was the NAIA National Player of the Year in 2007 until an ankle injury ended his career in 2009.
After his injury, Singleton rediscovered himself in music and started his journey as a blues singer. This led to his success today with the release of his album “Refuse To Lose” on Alligator Records in May 2014. The album traces Singleton’s story and sends a strong message of hope and perseverance.
“I cherish these moments when my spirit is low because I know it’s going to make me a stronger person,” Singleton said. “Because I just refuse to lose and just embrace the moment and I keep pushing through it to get to the other side. That’s what I would tell anybody to do: keep pushing no matter what. You can be disappointed but don’t be discouraged.”
Today, the blues singer looks back at his years at USM and said he is grateful for the academic environment and the staff surrounding student athletes, with a particular affection for Associate Director for National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Stacey Hall. He said Hall took him under her wing and helped him get through school, being a young first-generation
Singleton said his enjoyment of stage performance is similar to his former basketball performance in many ways, but also much different in others.
“In music, I don’t have to run faster or jump higher than anybody. It’s more of an emotional thing,” he said. “Since I started playing music, being on stage and performing a lot, I feel like I’m emotionally balanced. Before now I didn’t see it that way, it’s like something was missing. Music is the universal language; it’s soul to soul.”