Percy Sledge headlines festival entertainment

He burst onto the musical scene in 1966, when his song, “When a Man Loves a Woman” was among a score of number one hits by artists who had never before charted.

“When a Man Loves a Woman” went on to become the most remembered rhythm and blues records of 1966.

Percy Sledge was born on November 25, 1940, in Leighton, Alabama. His father died when he was two months old. In his teens, Sledge sang at the Galilee Bapitst Church and in the cotton fields. He began performing with a five-man cappella goup, the Belltones, who won first place singing “The Banana Boat Song” at a contest sponsoed by the Alabama A&M New Farmers of America.

In the early sixties, he worked as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffeidl, Alabama, before taking a construction job in 1965.

The song’s inspiration came when Sledge’s girlfriend left him for a modeling career after he was laid off from a construction job in late 1965.

It reached #1 in the U.S. and went on to become an international hit. The song was also the first gold record released by Atlantic Records. The soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge’s career, and was followed by “Warm and Tender Love”, “Take Time to Know Her” (his second biggest U.S. hit, peaking at #11), and “Cover Me”.

Sledge charted with “I’ll Be Your Everything” and “Sunshine” during the 1970’s, and has become an international concert favorite throughout the world, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, and on the African continent, and South Africa in particular.

Sledge was an inaugural Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award honoree in 1989. In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In May 2007, Percy Sledge was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame for his contributions to the state’s music.

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