Singer Peabo Bryson returns home to his roots for concert at Peace Center in Greenville

Peabo Bryson is known for his soul ballads and duets with musicians Chaka Kahn, Roberta Flack and Kenny G and now he is coming home to his roots where his musical career began in Greenville.

Bryson will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at the Peace Center Concert Hall, 300 S. Main St., Greenville. Tickets range from $45 to $55 and seating is limited. To order tickets, call 864-467-3000 or go to

This is the first time Bryson will perform as a decorated musician in his hometown since he was a teenager. He has won two Grammy Awards and has an R&B and soul music catalog, spanning over 20 albums.

Smooth soul balladeer Peabo Bryson is coming home to perform at the Peace Center in Greenville.

His return to town will likely rekindle faint memories of local landmarks and a skewed sense of direction from living in Greenville over a half-century ago. And while Bryson has called Atlanta his home for most of his professional recording career, his origins and things he learned started right here in Greenville.

"There are all kinds of theories about going home," Bryson said. "I don't agree that you can never go home, it's just been a while for me. I've got real blood in the soil of Greenville."

Peapo, or "Peabo" as most know him was scheduled to perform at the Peace Center back in May 2019. But a month prior, he suffered a heart attack, halting his much-anticipated return home. Now, four years later and fully recovered, the Greenville native is back to entertain and give advice on love in the place that helped define his talents.

"Greenville prepared me for the world," Bryson said. "My experience here was enlightening. The adversities I faced (in Greenville) gave me a humbling, and I had the humility to embrace the rest of the world when I found myself."

The scars on his knees from playing football near Goodwin Street on Greenville's Northwest side as a child or being hit by a black 1957 Chevrolet which fractured several of his ribs in a Cash & Carry parking lot still remain. And although the boarding house his parents owned within the city limits and his grandfather's farm in Mauldin no longer exists — Peapo is Greenville.

Both the urban and country living environments helped shape the 72-year-old R&B/soul singer, preparing him to sing along with the likes of greats such as Flack, Kahn and the late Minnie Riperton.

"Being in both environments makes you well-rounded," Bryson said. "I've raised pigs and hogs, slaughtered, pickled and planted because of Greenville."

In this file photo from 2018, Peabo Bryson  performs in concert. Photo by Kevin Winter,

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How Greenville helped shape Peabo's passion to write, perform love songs

Bryson attributes "The Prophet," a 1923 poetry book by Khalil Gilbran, as the literature responsible for shaping both his infatuation and respect for love. As an underclassman around the mid-1960s at the now defunct Washington High School on Betty Spencer Drive, that book helped a 14-year-old Bryson come to the realization that 'love's only desire is to fulfill itself.'

Combining his understanding of love, alongside his natural singing ability and an interest to pursue music professionally, led Bryson to pursue his dream. He attributes three moves for helping him to get started:

  • The confidence to ask Al Freeman to sing backup for his mid-1960s Greenville-based band alongside The Upsetters, who later helped Bryson buy instruments and music equipment. It was Freeman who had a hard time pronouncing Peapo, which led Bryson to perform under the name Peabo.

  • He was lying behind the back tires of Moses Dillard's car — leader of Greenville-based bands The Dynamic Showmen and also Tex-Town Display — refusing to move until he was taken to an audition with Dillard's management team.

  • A determination to learn how to read music, write music and play an instrument before signing with Bang Records of Atlanta.

If not for the foundation that Greenville's mid-1960s-to-1970s local band scene set for Bryson's vocal and musical talents, he may never have performed with Celine Dion on Disney's 1991 song of the same name as the movie, "Beauty and the Beast," or on "A Whole New World" from the 1992 Alladin soundtrack with Regina Belle.

Bryson won two Grammy Awards: for his duets on both songs.

"Life is about persistence, friendship and love," Bryson said. "That's what got me where I am today, and I'm thankful for the journey. Greenville is a great platform to approach the rest of the world."

Peabo's favorites, and advice from a family man

Beyond the soundtracks he has worked on, Bryson's favorite Disney movies include "The Lion King," "The Little Mermaid," and "Finding Dory" — all films that he has watched many times with his oldest daughter Linda, now in her mid-50s, and now again with his 5-year-old son "Kitt."

"When you dismantle the pieces of those films, it makes you understand how to treat people," Bryson said.

While Bryson hasn't made a studio album since 2018, Kitt, and his wife Tanya, have given him a renewed passion for life and love. He believes he has been afforded both a second child and second marriage.

"Don't take relationship advice online," Bryson says about online dating, and also, "being right is not as important as finding a solution with your partner."

In his spare time, Peabo tries to read 100 books a year, mostly consisting of 17th and 18th-century romance novels. "Still Life with Woodpecker," "Conan the Barbarian" and "War and Peace" are his favorites.

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Greenville singer Peabo Bryson wasn't able to perform his May 2019 concert at the Peace Center in Greenville because he suffered a heart attack prior to the event.

Peabo Bryson's show at Peace Center in May. What to expect

Maybe it's best that Peabo has never performed in Greenville, professionally.

Advice for Peabo's current stage presence and performance was cultivated with the late Cicely Tyson — an Emmy Award-winning actress — who encouraged Bryson to attack his audience with great energy, call and respond, and walk into the crowd and sing along with his fans.

Expect relationship advice from the soul singer while onstage, such as, not taking online dating advice and keeping the mystery alive in your relationship despite being creatures of habit.

"You will get an upbeat and fun experience, full monty of feelings," Bryson said. "There's a bit in there for everyone. I want to make sure the audience got their money's worth."

While melodies of love will serenade the Peace Center in May, with classics from Bryson including "Feel the Fire," "Crosswinds," and "Can You Stop the Rain", take in the fact that all of the harmony, seduction and wholesomeness derives from Greenville's soulful, Southern bloodline.

"I've lived and observed, and I don't care where you go," Bryson said. "Home is home."

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– A.J. Jackson covers the food & dining scene, along with arts, entertainment and more for The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail. Contact him by email at, and follow him on Twitter @ajhappened.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Singer Peabo Bryson to perform concert at Peace Center in Greenville.