Jake Mitchell

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Little Jake Mitchell returns Friday for the lead-off concert of the series’ celebration of African-American Music Appreciation Month in June.

Little Jake Mitchell might not describe himself this way, but the 68-year-old singer is a one-man standard-bearer for June’s designation as African-American Music Appreciation Month.

At the age of 12, he recorded for Chess Records in Chicago, went on the road as a featured part of B.B. King’s show and performed with the likes of Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye.

Mitchell’s own history includes the time his band in 1960, Little Jake and the Blenders, became the first African-American act to perform at the University of Florida’s Gator Growl.

Having that experience under his belt gives him a special perspective to embrace performing before large, appreciative crowds some 50-plus years later.

“We want everybody to be able to say, ‘What a wonderful time we’re having; we can sit together, and we can enjoy music together.’

Gainesville.com

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