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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

CIAA is rare homecoming for R&B legend
Published Friday, February 29, 2008
by Ryanne Persinger

Cuba Gooding Sr. is in town for the CIAA tournament promoting a new album and an upcoming movie.

He's singing at several events this weekend, despite battling flu symptoms. He sang at Thursday's gospel show, Friday morning's JMI CIAA Invitational Golf Tournament and will sing at Saturday's men's basketball final at 8 p.m.

"I'm having a wonderful time here," Gooding said. "I've gotten a warm response."

Cuba Gooding Sr.

This is his first time visiting the sports event, but his roots in the Carolinas stretch beyond this weekend's games and parties.

Gooding, the lead singer of the 1970s R&B group The Main Ingredient, is mainly remembered for classics "Everybody Plays the Fool," and "Just Don't Wanna Be Lonely," admits that his tours usually don't bring him to this neck of the woods.

"Very rarely do my concerts take me into the Carolinas or into the South period," Gooding said. "We hardly even go to Virginia....the Carolinas is almost virgin territory for me."

However, North Carolina holds history with Gooding. His mother, Abbie Alston, and his aunt Ida are from Rocky Mount.

"It's an extension for me being down here in the Carolinas," he said. "My mother eventually left and went to Harlem to be with my father."

Gooding said his mother was a member of the House of Prayer.

"My mother was knee deep into that," Gooding said. "She was always tithing, you would have never heard of Cuba Gooding Sr. at all if Daddy Grace had his way," he joked.

Gooding's father was born in Barbados. His father's first wife was killed and afterwards he left for Harlem where he met and eventually married Gooding's mother. Gooding was born in 1944.

In an upcoming film, "Everybody Plays the Fool: The Cuba Gooding Story," the lives of the Gooding family will be chronicled, says Gooding, starting from his father in Barbados, Gooding's own life as a musician and his son's career, Cuba Gooding Jr.

"The film will explain the treks of Barbados all the way up until when (Gooding Jr.) won the Academy Award," Gooding said. "My wife and I have been very blessed to give birth to an African American who won an Academy Award."

Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for his role in the 1996 movie "Jerry Maguire."

"I brag about (Junior's Oscar) more than my singing career," Gooding said. "My wife and I are blessed that our children are succeeding every day."

Gooding is also the father of television actor Omar Gooding.

Meanwhile, Gooding is in the process of releasing a new CD. The first single is "Begin with the Family," although he's not quite sure what he's going to name the CD. He recently toured in the gospel play "Be Careful What You Pray For," with Shirley Murdoch.

"I've never been to the CIAA, but maybe the publicity will help promote my new music," Gooding said.

Focusing on his family tree, Gooding said visiting North Carolina has made him want to find out more of his mother's history.

"I want to do more here," he said. "I'm going to look in the archives and get all of the details of the Alstons."


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