Percy Sledge, Bobby 'Blue' Bland to headline Hairston Celebration

August 15, 2010 2:15:00 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Two icons of the music world will be at the Riverwalk in Columbus Oct. 16, sharing some of the memorable songs that cemented their place in history.  


Organizers have announced Percy Sledge and Bobby "Blue" Bland are confirmed to co-headline the Legends Concert that will anchor a four-day Sam Hairston Celebration Oct. 13-16. 


Born in Crawford in 1920, Hairston dominated Negro League baseball and became the first African-American signed to the Chicago White Sox in 1951. He later became a scout for the team. He passed away in 1997. 


"We really think this concert will be a top-notch show that both fans and entertainers will enjoy," said concert co-organizer Steve Rogers. "It''s a wonderful opportunity for a community to have one music legend playing, much less two."  


Tickets ($20) will go on sale Sept. 1 online and at a variety of locations to be announced. 


The Legends Concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16, with Big Ben Atkins and the Class of ''65. Sledge is slated to go on at 7:45 p.m. and Bland at 9 p.m. 




Legends of song 


Sledge, forever identified with his timeless No. 1 hit, "When a Man Loves a Woman," is a native of Leighton, Ala. The 2004 Rock n'' Roll Hall of Fame inductee is also known for songs like "Take Time to Know Her," "Warm and Tender Love," and "It Tears Me Up." 


Bland is a product of Memphis'' Beale Street scene. The Tennessee-born musician hit No. 1 on the R&B chart with "Farther On Up the Road" in 1957 and went on to release a string of hits, 11 of which made it to the Top Ten. 


Both acclaimed performers have maintained active touring schedules, and are recognized as two of the most respected rhythm and blues and soul-blues artists living. 


"We''ve already had inquiries from Memphis, Birmingham, Jackson and beyond from people wanting to come to this," Rogers said  


Organizers hope this will be the first of several Legends concerts, held in conjunction annually with celebrations to honor area citizens who became well-known in their fields.  


Rogers added, "We''re going to do it right and plan to put on an event that when everybody walks away at the end of the night, they''ll say, ''I''m ready to come back next year.''" 


The Sam Hairston Celebration, presented in part by the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, will also include the dedication of a baseball park and historic markers, an exhibit at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library and several other related events. For more information on the Celebration, go to, or call 662-329-1191. 


Multiple vendors will be on site at the Oct. 16 concert at the Riverwalk. Those interested in being a vendor are asked to contact Amber Brislin at 662-328-6305.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.