Hunter Gibson plays the piano and sings at his very first concert in 1982.
Photo by Courtesy Hunter Gibson
Over the years, I have seen Hunter Gibson perform everywhere from weddings and private parties to corporate events and local venues. At the annual Sweet Potato Queens Come On In Party this year at the Hilton on County Line Road, he and his band had Sweet Potato Queen Wannabes getting up from their seats and shaking their tiaras, boas and margarita glasses.
A Jackson native, Gibson, 49, started out at age 6 with piano lessons, and as he grew up, he began playing in rock bands in high school. In 1982, he decided to become a solo artist. He began to perform as just "a guy playing the piano," covering singer/songwriter hits from the '70s from artists such as Elton John and Billy Joel. Over the course of 30 years performing, Gibson has played an assortment of musical genres, from country to hip-hop and rap. During the mid-1990s, Gibson also picked up the guitar and harmonica and started incorporating these instruments into his shows, becoming a one-man band.
Gibson's passion for music led him to visit cities such as Nashville, Atlanta and Los Angeles, hoping that his singing and songwriting skills would get noticed—and they did. In the late 1980s, he released an album under the now-defunct Terminal Records. Soon after that, Gibson started his own label, Baby j Records, and released two more original albums. He decided, however, that performing his own material to an audience of strangers was too personal for him, which is uncommon for songwriters, and he wanted to form a band that played a wide variety of music.
In 1991, he formed Hunter and The Gators. The Gators are local party favorites and have opened for Greg Allman and Better Than Ezra. Gibson has also had the privilege of opening for acts such as Percy Sledge, Starship, Irma Thomas and The Radiators.
While Gibson stays busy performing all over the southwest region, he has managed to find time to write TV and radio commercial jingles; he won an Addy Award for a Gulf Oaks Hospital commercial in 1990. He also has written and produced music albums at his studio. He composed and wrote the theme song for the Outdoor Channel's "Chasing the Dream" in 2001 as well as the movie score for 2008's "The Avarice." Now, Gibson is working on a Christmas album and another album of original music.
Gibson, along with The Gators, has won numerous awards in the JFP's Best of Jackson including second place in this year's Best Local Musician, and in 2011 the Jackson Music Awards awarded the band Best Pop Group.
This year marks 30 years of performing for Gibson. There are not a lot of people in this world who can make a living out of performing for 30 years, so congratulations to Hunter Gibson. We owe it to him, Jackson, for getting us to shake our tail feathers or line-dance the polish off the floors.
Help Gibson celebrate Thursday, Aug. 30, at Olga's (4760 Interstate 55 N., Suite D, 601-366-1366) at 7 p.m. during a free concert.