From hoops to blues, check out this week’s Gotta Hear Song, “I Refuse To Lose” by Jarekus Singleton

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Photo courtesy of the artist

Guitarist and singer Jarekus Singleton is blazing a hot blues trail with incendiary playing showcased on his excellent new album, Refuse To Lose. Singleton is being hailed as one of the future greats of the blues world with his fresh sounding take on electric blues. He writes and produces his own material and has been getting universal acclaim for his live performances. Being a blues musician wasn’t always Singleton’s first choice for a career. In addition to being an outstanding musician, the 29-year-old from Clinton, Mississippi was a college basketball star with hopes to play in the NBA, but his career was cut when he had an ankle injury.

LaReeca Rucker wrote about Singleton in The Clarion-Ledger:

In 2002, the Clinton resident was the No. 1 basketball player in the state. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi on a basketball scholarship and played there two years before transferring to William Carey University, where he won just about every basketball award you can win, including the National Player of the Year award.

“Coming out of William Carey in 2007, I knew someone was going to give me an NBA tryout and invite me to training camp,” he said. “It never happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers had been calling my agent saying ‘Jarekus is an interesting talent, and we’ve got him under our radar.’ But they never called me to go to training camp, and that devastated me.”

He moved to the Middle East to play for a Lebanon basketball team the following season, but when someone set off a bomb targeting a U.S. Embassy car two blocks from his apartment, Singleton talked to his manager about coming home.

“I got an email from the U.S. Embassy saying: ‘Do not go outside. Be aware of your surroundings.’ It said eight people were killed and 16 were injured, and I was like, this is not the place for me. When I got home, the first thing I did was kiss my mama’s driveway. I changed clothes, went to church and played music. I was glad to be on American soil.”

He also began basketball training again because he was determined to get to the NBA, but after injuring his ankle, and having surgery to repair damaged cartilage, Singleton was on crutches for 18 weeks. During this time, he began playing music with a couple of bands to earn extra cash, and his mother encouraged him to start his own band.

The rest, as they say, is history. Below, listen to “I Refuse To Lose.”

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