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Curtis Reed calls Lebanon home

Bonnie Bucy Living Writer • Updated Jul 29, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Curtis Reed has lived in California, New York, Atlanta, Atlantic City and even Rome (Georgia, that is,) but he has considered Lebanon home for the last several years.

“New York was extremely good to me as were a lot of places, but Lebanon has not only been good, but it feels like home,” said the talented entertainer, songwriter, recording artist and actor. “I’ve been here since the very early 1990s and I love it.”

Curtis was born in Rome, Ga. to a musically inclined family. His mother played piano. His father picked guitar. The circumstances of his own birth had him early for his first appearance and perhaps predestined for a country music career in that his mother didn’t make it to the hospital in time and Curtis was born in the cab of a Chevrolet pick-up on state highway 101 between Rockmart and Rome, Ga. and he’s been on the road ever since.  

“But, my folks were a strongly religious pair and only allowed gospel and spiritual music to be played in the house,” remembered Curtis. “They encouraged the music as long as it was religious, but we had to go elsewhere to play anything different and I was into it all at that stage in my life.”

The first instrument Curtis learned to play was the guitar and piano came next.

“My father bought it for me when I was 11 or 12,” said Curtis with a smile. “It had a wah wah stick on it and I loved it.”

His mother lined him up with the principal of his school as his voice and piano teacher.

“I didn’t like it the first time I went for a lesson,” admitted Curtis. “So, I walked out. My mother gave me a butt licking when I got home and sent me right back. I stayed with Prof. Adcock until he felt he’d done all he could for me and sent me to J.T. Gibbons who later went to the High School of the Performing Arts and summoned me there in my junior year of high school.”

Curtis was 12 when he got his first job in a record shop. While the newest records would be playing, Curtis would imitate the artists as he worked. One day as he sang and danced while stocking shelves, a man came in an caught him. The man was so intrigued, he offered Curtis a job.

So, Curtis began his professional career at age 12 when he began touring throughout the south as Little Curtis Reed and the G.T.’s and got to open for such acts as Jackie Wilson and the Drifters. He finished out high school in New York where he studied music, dance and songwriting with some of the most influential cabaret and recording personalities in the industry.

His mother died when Curtis was 16 and his dad died a couple of years later as did his manager. He had lost a 6-year-old brother when Curtis was only 7. With all that had gone on for him in his young years, Curtis felt he needed some steady discipline in his life. He joined the Marine Corps. Following his honorable discharge from there, Curtis discussed his future with his adoptive parents, Dr. Jerome and Lois Bryant.

“He was the first Afro-American doctor in Rome and they introduced me to many of the art forms, including theater and such,” said Curtis. “They saw my talent and pushed me to go to New York. I was in my early 20s. I spent my time there writing with various other writers like Jimmy Jones, who had written ‘Handyman’ among other hits.”

Curtis left New York in ‘81 and went to Atlanta where he formed his own band and was singing jazz in the Lark & the Dove, an upscale club, when he was approached by a United Inn Corp. individual who gave him a six year contract to front their rooms which included Holiday Inns and others. He went on to play other four and five star places like The Sands in Atlantic City, The Diplomat Hotel and Doral Country Club in Miami, the Hilton and Hyatt Regency in Atlanta and the Historic Hemmingway in Hollywood, Fla.

Curtis said he had always wanted to do country music, so in 1991, he came to Nashville. He called Fred Burton who he had met earlier in Atlantic City. One thing led to another and he became a regular on Ralph Emery’s early morning show TV where he stayed until 1997 when the show left the air.

“The first day I was on Ralph’s show, the phone calls really came in after the show,” said Curtis with a chuckle. “I have a printout on those calls. Most of them referred to me as that ‘black boy’ or black guy.’ Some called me by name, but they all said how great I sounded and they thought I should be made a regular on the show. I guess Ralph thought so too, because that’s what he did. I was there until ‘97 when the show left the air.”

After a time, he did return to Hollywood for a while where he appeared at Joan Rivers’,  Marla Gibbs and Mary Tyler Moore clubs and played all the honky tonks in the west coast area. He then returned to Tennessee.

Through these years, Curtis’ talents as a singer and performer saw him awarded first place in the 1986 Georgia Music Festival for his original song, “Destination Love.” His performance of his original single, “Exit 23,” was released in Europe and achieved significant success. Doors opened to acting roles in a number of films, television appearances and commercials. He appeared in the CBS miniseries, “Shake, Rattle & Roll;” 21st Century Film’s “Silent Victim” and “Hot House;” 20th Century Fox’s “Glory” and “Six Pack;” CBS’ “In the Heat of the Night;” Hallmark’s “Caroline;” and Ted Turner Productions’ “Rising Sun.” He has also done commercials for Third National Bank, Toyota and Western Outlet.

Besides his own music videos on “Tenderness” and “Good Hearted Woman,” Curtis has appeared in Michael English’s “I Surrender;” George Jones and Randy Travis’ HBO Special and Amy Grant’s “Good For Me” video. He also appeared in and performed the soundtrack for Zaracon Pictures’ “West From North Goes South.”

Curtis has always wanted to write a song or do something to give back to his birthplace of Rome, Ga. He started working on “Take Me Back To Georgia” several years ago.  He’d work a while and then put it aside. This went on through the years. His lady friend, Jane Biles, and Cleve Warknock came along and added a few touches.

“It finally got to the point where I knew the song was right,” said Curtis. “It has a touch of country, jazz, R&B and even hip hop in it, so it appeals to a really wide range of listeners and I really believe in the song. It’s been getting extremely good response on iTunes, CD Baby.com and Amazon.”

The disc has four other tunes on it. “Lucy, I Do,” “Castanets,” and “Center of My Universe” are all written by Curtis and Jane. The last tune, “You Still Knock the Wind Out of My Sails,” also has Dave DeMay listed as writer along with the other two.  DeMay also produces.

In an effort to “give back,” Curtis took the song to the Rome Convention Center and the Rome Symphony Orchestra. He has a large choir of children appearing on the recording. He has proposed that he appear with the Rome Symphony in concert and that when it comes to performing “Take Me Back To Georgia,” kids from all the schools in Floyd County will perform that part of the song  with monies raised from the concert going to the Music and Arts Departments.

“Keep your fingers crossed. It looks like they are going to do it,” said Curtis. “We’re talking about March of next year and I am so excited. After that, we are discussing the probability of doing the same thing in other Georgia towns with kids from those towns doing the back-up.”

In the meantime, Curtis continues to take his strong Los Vegas style show into up-scale rooms. (He even has the means to furnish those rooms.) He donates his time and talents to many charitable organizations, including Dreammakers. He performs every year at the Watertown Jazz Festival. He sings, dances, gives exciting performances on the piano, classical guitar and once in a while even taps the drums.

What does the talented Curtis Reed do when he’s not writing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument or booking more dates? Well, you might find him on the golf course, on the firing range brushing up on his shooting skills, jogging or letting a horse do the jogging while he’s riding horseback.

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