Jazz and R&B Meet at Simmons-Pickney Middle School

The Legendary Oscar Rivers and the Soulful Sam Singleton standing in front of How Art Thou

One day this past September, Sam Singleton, a noted and accomplished singer known for his melodious baritone singing of R&B, walked into the Simmons-Pinckney campus formerly (Burke Middle School) as a brand new substitute teacher. By chance meeting, one of Charleston’s legendary accomplished jazz musicians by the name of Oscar Rivers, happened to be teaching Spanish at the school. Oscar Rivers saw Sam in the lobby area, and asked him who he was. After an extensive and cordial conversation regarding their respective musical backgrounds, a friendship was born.

Sam Singleton and Oscar Rivers soon find out they shared many similar life experiences, as well as how they both returned to Charleston to use their God given talents in a city they both love. Oscar Rivers is a Burke High School graduate, graduated from South Carolina State University, and earned a Masters Degree in Music from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Oscar was a part of the vibrant jazz scene in Chicago in the 60’s and 70’s and has worked with many great jazz, rhythm and blues artists from the ‘70’s thru the ‘90’s such as Quincy Jones, The Temptations, B.B King, the Jackson Five, Etta James, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder and many, many more.

Sam Singleton, son of an AME Minister, was born in Charleston, but grew up in New Jersey. He was sent to finish his high school education at Burke HS. Sam states,” My senior year at Burke was the greatest educational experience in my life, and it gave me the tools to attain my educational achievements at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and on to Central Michigan University for my graduate degree. The outstanding and nurturing teachers at Burke gave me the tools to accomplish professional success as an athlete, to become an executive in the private and public sector and most importantly, a professional entertainer.”

Music has always been Sam Singleton’s first love. After retiring from a successful career in the public and private sector, he moved back to his home in Charleston, SC in 2006, where he began pursuing his dream of producing, promoting and performing in entertainment events from 2006 thru 2014 where he has performed and worked with many of Charleston’s best musicians. In the latter part of 2014, he moved to the greater Phoenix, Arizona area to share in the daily lives of his children and grandchildren. He was fortunate to connect with local musicians, casinos, and exclusive resorts in the Phoenix metropolitan area, where he was able to promote and perform. In 2016, he returned to Charleston in hopes of continuing his music career.

The chance meeting at Simmons-Pinckney Middle School between Oscar Rivers and Sam Singleton was destined to happen. Oscar Rivers invited Sam to stop by a very intimate jazz cafe where he and his trio were playing located on Maybank Highway, James Island, in the Terrace Shopping Center called “HOW ART THOU”, owned and operated by David Burger. A chance meeting that became a friendship is now an extraordinary collaboration of jazz and Rhythm and Blues. Once per month, on the second Sunday of each month, the Oscar Rivers Trio performs and features the Soulful Sam Singleton.

For those who are fans of the music from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and beyond, they are invited to share in this once a month event that highlights the unique collaboration between a Charleston music icon and a soulful Charleston jazz singer. The next event is Sunday, December 11th and will feature a Holiday Season Special Presentation with holiday music performed in the jazz idiom as well as some with a touch of rhythm and blues, and classic jazz standards. Doors open at 5:30PM and Showtime begins at 6:30PM. There is limited seating so reservations are encouraged by calling 843-793- 2231 or visit the website at www.HowArtThouCafe.com.

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