Entertainer Melvin Brown — that’s Movin’ Melvin Brown, according to his concert promotions — has represented American rhythm-and-blues and pop music to audiences abroad for more than 25 years.
He plays to a crowd closer to his Austin home base Friday night at the Waco Hippodrome, but his show remains wide-ranging, time-spanning and multi-faceted.
“I’ve been through about every kind of music and every kind of dance,” he said in a recent phone interview from his Austin home. “I’ve worked with a comedy team. I’ve worked with a dance troupe . . . I’ve been around for a while.”
Brown covers a lot of territory in his one-man song-and-dance show, “A Man, A Magic, A Music” — his life and career, beginning with his childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio; America from the 1950s to 1990s; and the music found in both.
At 74, Brown has a rich experience in performing, although by his account, he’s far from over. “I’m approaching midlife,” he said, punctuating his remarks with a staccato baritone laugh. “Next year, I’ll be at midlife.”
That life has spanned a fertile period of American pop and R&B. Brown sings hits by Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett and more, taking listeners through rock ’n’ roll, rhythm-and-blues, jazz, blues, country and swing music in the course of 90 minutes. He moves, too, evoking Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and others.
Thanks to Cincinnati-based King Records, Brown saw a Who’s Who of R&B and pop perform in his city — James Brown, the Isley Brothers, B.B. King and Little Stevie Wonder, among others. Encouraged at an early age for his dancing, he gravitated toward performing and by his teens was singing in a doo-wop group.
That started a five-decade career punctuated by a stint in the military, some time as a preacher, years with a dance group and a comedy team, storytelling, leading dance workshops, creating health-oriented dance DVDs such as “Tap Into Health” and “Low Input High Output,” and writing the books “Simple Health and Happiness” and “As A Man Thinketh.”
Optimism and positivity drive his performance and message. That’s led to success with audiences around the world, he said. “‘Simple health and happiness’ — this has been my mission in life,” he said.