Jackson County

He acted in the James Brown movie and now he’s playing the blues in Ocean Springs

Jamell Richardson will be the headline act at the August version of Ocean Springs Live on Saturday.
Jamell Richardson will be the headline act at the August version of Ocean Springs Live on Saturday. Jamell Richardson

Jamell Richardson, who was born in Meridian but was raised in Butler, Ala., wants you to know something and that’s the blues and gospel music aren’t that removed from one another.

“People used to say the blues was ‘devil music,’ ” Richardson said. “But there’s not that big of a difference between the two —if you replace ‘Jesus’ with the word ‘baby,’ it’s the same thing.”

Richardson, who will be headlining Saturday’s Ocean Springs Live, is an expert in both the music of the sacred and the secular. He grew up in and around the churches where both his grandmother and his mother were ministers.

“I’ve been singing in the church all of my life.” he said. “My mother never said anything about me playing the blues — I’m still in the church, nothing has really changed.”

But in reality, everything has changed for Richardson. In 2014, he was cast as James Brown’s legendary guitarist Jimmy Nolen in the biopic “Get on Up,” which was filmed near Jackson.

The film also was produced by Dan Akroyd and Mick Jagger.

“Mick Jagger was cool -- really, everybody on the set was cool, there wasn't any of that Hollywood attitude,” he said.

A highlight of the film was a re-creation of Brown’s legendary performance at the Boston Garden in 1968. It was filmed in the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

“That was as close to the real thing as you get could get,” Richardson said. “It had the energy of a real live performance.”

Richardson was also the guitar instructor on the set of the film.

While Richardson said that he truly enjoyed acting, his current role is that of a blues ambassador.

A fan of both Jimi Hendrix and BB King, Richardson said he looks forward to his Saturday show in Ocean Springs.

“It’s going to be a good time,” he said.

Ocean Springs Live Celebrates International Blues Music Day

With Blackwater Brass, Jonathan “Boogie” Long and Jamell Richardson

Rosetti Park at 709 Church Street in Downtown Ocean Springs

5 p.m. on Saturday, August 6

Show is free

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