Internationally-renowned vocalist Robbie Britt has performed for British royalty and U.S. presidents, but he said that his goal is to uplift every man.
Britt, who is set to perform at the Mayberry Days’ Hometown Tribute to Emmett Forrest at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the Blackmon Ampitheater, said his choice to focus on gospel and patriotic music is because he believes music should inspire the listener.
“I think all types of music have a place in my life, but I primarily choose to perform gospel and patriotic music because it’s highly emotional and inspirational,” he said from his home in Los Angeles. “That, I believe, is especially important at a time like this when people are concerned about the economy and how their lives are being impacted by it. I’ve always wanted to inspire and encourage people and touch their lives in some way.”
Britt, who has performed at the White House for Presidents Reagan, Carter, Ford and both Bush’s as well as England’s Prince Charles, said his career began out of childhood trauma.
“I started out at the age of 15 with a pretty rough background,” said Britt, who describes himself as a “young 49-year-old.” “I came from a broken home where there was a lot of abuse. That ostracized me from being like other normal kids.”
And then his life changed due to a chance meeting.
“During that time, I met a white, middle-class family in Riverside, Calf.., who heard about my plight and offered their assistance on a temporary basis until my father could get his life together for himself and his four children. He relinquished custody of me to them, and they took me into their home. I never left.”
He said those foster parents changed his life by giving him a home and introducing him to Jesus.
“My foster brother later introduced me to gospel music and discovered this musical talent in me that had been lying dormant in me waiting to emerge,” Britt said.
His first performance was singing at a church in Yuma, Az., where he performed “The Little Boy From the Carpenter Shop.” It ended with a standing ovation.
“Shortly after that, I started receiving phone calls to perform at political events and those featuring high-profile people like politicians and celebrities and what-have-you,” he said. “From there it went national and I ended up performing for presidents and heads of state.”
Britt says he feels like music is his calling.
“It is my desire to lift my voice in song to bless lives, testify of the Lord and promote the cause of liberty in this great country,” he said. “Being a classical singer, I do a lot of inspirational-type performance that feature gospel and patriotic music.”
His Sunday performance, for example, will feature songs like “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “God Bless the U.S.A.”
The performance will be his second appearance in Mount Airy, after he performed last year at a tribute to Andy Griffith.
Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council, said she was amazed by Britt’s voice.
“When I heard him sing I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “We were just blown away. Just weeks later, I was working on the memorial service for Andy Griffith, and (Griffith’s wife Cindi) suggested he perform some of Andy’s favorite songs. When I asked him to perform he was on the way to Los Angeles, but he came back to perform. (Forrest) so loved his performance during that tribute that we’re repeating.”
During Mayberry Days, Britt will be performing at several ticketed events, but Sunday’s performance is free and open to the public.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.