Play That Funky Music

American Idol contestant Vincent Powell headlines the 18th annual Motown & More Revue at Miller Outdoor Theatre this weekend

By Michael Hardy May 23, 2013

Dancin' in the Street: Motown & More Revue
Miller Outdoor Theatre
May 23–26 at 8:15
Covered seating sold out; free seating on hill
6000 Hermann Park Dr

Growing up in Austin, Vincent Powell mostly listened to contemporary pop and hip-hop. Motown funk, the music of his parent’s generation, seemed distinctly uncool. “I thought it was kind of boring—old people’s music,” Powell says. Perhaps if he had listened to more James Brown back then, he would have been watching out for the big payback: for the past six years, Powell has been performing in the annual Motown & More Revue. This weekend, Powell will again take the stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre to sing Lenny Williams’ “Cause I Love You” and other songs. Being in the show, the 29-year-old Powell says, gave him a new appreciation for old people music. “I grew to love that type of music,” he now says. “The show taught me a lot about the Motown era, about the emotions and the identity of the songs—the love, the passion. It’s real music.”

If Powell’s name sounds familiar, you probably watch American Idol. In the most recent season, Powell made it into the final group of 20 singers before being eliminated from the show during the first audience vote. Before leaving, however, several of Powell’s performances were featured on the show, including his rendition of “Rock Me Baby” for his audition in San Antonio. All four judges voted to send him to the next round, with Mariah Carey telling him that “you sing like an angel.” 

Powell moved to Houston in 2001 to study music at Texas Southern University and has lived here ever since. He’s a local praise leader and teacher, and sings gospel and jazz around town. Performing in the Motown Revue “kind of prepared me for American Idol,” Powell said. “It’s helped me a lot in terms of being a singer and connecting with the song.” Powell’s musical taste has evolved so much from his earlier disdain for Motown that he now has trouble settling on a favorite group.

“I love the Stylistics, the Spinners… definitely the Four Tops.”  

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