The time has arrived. Get ready for a night of community and freedom as the City of Baytown presents its Juneteenth Celebration. But don’t take our word for it. Hear it from one of the members of The Four Tops, who will be headlining the free concert.
Lawrence Payton Jr. said, “We’re going to give you The Four Tops in its glory.”
He added, “You’re going to see a lot of energy, you’re going to see all the hits, you’re going to see a full band section with 10 horns and percussion. You’re going to have a musical experience.”
Lawrence said the band is excited to be playing in Texas, while celebrating Juneteenth, at the same time. He said, “Of course that’s very special to us all. We’re always excited to perform in Texas and of course it’s going to be really hot to go along with some hot music.”
The band features original member Abdul “Duke” Fakir. However, you might recognize the Lawrence Payton name. Lawrence Payton Sr. was also an original member of the band. Payton Sr. passed away in 1997, but his legacy still lives on through his son.
Payton Jr. said, “If you really want to know the truth, it’s actually an honor. Behind the scenes, I was working with the group as far as writing, producing, and everything. I never thought I would be a member. It kind of fell into my hands. I’m honored that I was ready and I’m lucky to be able to carry the memories on.”
Former students from Carver High School will be honored during the Juneteenth Celebration. Many of them were listening to The Four Tops when they released hits like “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) hit the radio. Lawrence was surprised by this and said this will make the concert extra special for the band. He said, “You’re singing to your peers, you know, we all came up in this Motown thing, this Motown revolution, so of course they will have a greater appreciation and everything. That makes it even more special.”
But that doesn’t mean that the show doesn’t hit all ages and generations. He said, “It’s going to be multicultural and a show for everyone. What I see is that the younger people that really didn’t come up in that era, when they hear this music they get really excited. I mean, it’s like they had grown up with it and stuff and it’s amazing how they take it. Everyone should come.”
While The Four Tops have been on the road for decades, they have taken some time off recently. The group took off three weeks to work on a new album that will be released in the next two months. Lawrence said, “Three weeks is like forever for an entertainer. So, we’re quite excited just to be leaving home and to come out and perform.”
He added, “When we come in, we bring a lot of love. We bring back that sound, we bring in that big band, we bring in that big rhythm section and percussion, all of the great hits. Juneteenth is about celebrating freedom and that’s what this music is also about. You know, times haven’t been easy for all of us. We’ve all been going through things, but this particular day, we’re just going to come out and have some fun.”
This free concert begins at 4pm with Piano Vibes. The Mambo Jazz Kings will play before the Juneteenth Ceremony. The Four Tops will play immediately after that, followed by a fireworks show. Come out for some free fun, brought to you by the City of Baytown, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Juneteenth Committee.