His work is rooted in the underserved Collegeville section of Birmingham, Ala. His vocal gifts, and a push from his mother, led him from a choir loft to the recording studio to the road. Headlining concerts with the Platters in the 1960s and 1970s, along with such other popular groups as the Drifters and the Coasters, he experienced the joy of fame and the shadow of discrimination.
He also experienced the insanity of a career in music. The Platters shattered into splinter quintets and sextets. Gibson quit counting and joined other groups, such as the Rivingtons. Who? Just read the title “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and see if you don’t start humming. Yep, that’s him.
Eventually, he gave it all up and moved to Europe. But, like so many who have the entertainment bug, he eventually returned to performing live, only with a different goal.
“On the stage, basically you are displaying your talents, but you are trying to give something to an audience to help them do better in their lives,” he says.
The Emerging Magazine concert’s Sept. 11 scheduling inevitably raises the question of how Gibson will address the anniversary during the performance. He simply says he won’t — not directly, anyway.
“I live this way every day, whether it is 9/11 or not,” he says. “I understand its great significance. Whatever the catastrophe is, though, there is a miracle in it somewhere. Maybe the miracle on this one is that everybody sees what we have in common.”
Jack Curry, a former editor at USA Today, is a freelance writer and editor and serves on the editorial board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, specializing in corporate philanthropy and the media.