By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
Music icon Al Green, 66, has been making what he calls “smooching music” for more than 40 years and, for the first time in his career, he’ll be performing at New Bedford’s Zeiterion Theatre this Sunday, Aug. 26. He anticipates the experience will be “Simply Beautiful.”
“You know Al and he is going to do what he do in New Bedford,” said Green, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who has sold more than 20 million records. “I want to feel what New Bedford is like. I’ve been to other cities in Massachusetts but I aint never been to New Bedford.”
Green not only is a performer but a Reverend, and is the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s not far from his home which is located in close proximity to Graceland.
But this Sunday he’ll be bestowing his blessings on his musical fans by playing a medley of Motown songs from artists like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, The Four Tops and The Temptations, plus his own biggest hits like “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “Look What You Done for Me.”
“I’m going to do all that good stuff,” Green said.
He’ll also sing fan favorite, “Let’s Stay Together,” a song so popular the President of the United States is familiar with it. In fact, to the surprise – and delight – of the crowd, Obama sang its opening lines at a rally in New York in January.
“He improved that in there – I didn’t know what he was doing but I thought it was kind of neat,” said Green, who was in the audience at the time. “I didn’t even know the President even knew my song but he sounded better than me. I said, ‘Oh, man. He’s going to put me out of a job. If he’s sounding that good I won’t be singing long.’”
All joking aside, Green has nothing to worry about – he’s been selling out shows during his current tour. So far, he said he’s having a “fantastic” time and finds it rewarding to look out into the crowd and witness people enjoying themselves.
“I can see that expression on their faces when I start to sing and they get into a finger-snapping groove-type thing,” he said.
In a similar way, Green hopes he has a positive effect as a preacher. While he knows a performer and a Reverend are different, he said they are comparable because they offer people a piece of his heart.
“A Reverend is a Reverend, a performer is a performer, and a show is a show, but it exemplifies the real life facts of the person that’s doing the show,” he said.
As for being a Reverend specifically, he appreciates the “significance” of it. He wishes more people would find the harmony he found.
“If everybody had significance of being a reverend you wouldn’t have some shooting in a theater about some movie that’s coming out,” he said. “Can you imagine all the lives that have damaged by this? It’s a show – it’s not for killings folks. If you have the tranquility of what we’re talking about then you wouldn’t be carrying an assault rifle around.”
Instead, Green is focusing on a few special things – creating new music, as he has an album in the works; as well as sharing love and happiness, both on and off stage.
“I dance, I pass out roses, I blow kisses, I hug people, I tell them that their love is worth something and that really are special,” he said. “You’ve got to think you’re wonderful. I think you’re wonderful.”
But that’s not all fans can expect from him at The Z.
“I’ve got 14 people on stage and we pack a tight ship,” said Green. “To all my Limelight fans, we kick butt out there.”
The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. Parking is free in an adjacent garage. For more information, visit http://www.zeiterion.org.