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Jeff Bates to perform in Beebe

Jeff Bates will perform at The Entertainment Center, 115 N. Main St., Beebe, on Saturday, Feb. 22. Also appearing will be Luke Williams, Big Shane Thornton and the Imagine That Band. Show time is slated for 7 p.m.

Although Bates was born in Mississippi, he has spent a lot of time in Arkansas. Therefore, he is certain to feel right at home when he takes the stage in Beebe.

“I always enjoy returning to Arkansas. It’s very much like a second home to me. I lived in Little Rock for seven years and I even married a couple of Arkansas girls. It will be great to come back and see some familiar faces,” Bates said in a phone interview.

Bates’ Arkansas ties date back to his days before he ever had a major record deal. During this period, he was a regular performer at the Hollywood Club in Jacksonville. Due to his alcohol and drug addiction, this was a dark time in Bates’ life. In 2007, he returned to the local honky-tonk for a performance, allowing him to put some of this past behind him.

“Back when I was performing on a regular basis at the Hollywood Club, I was doing drugs and making bad choices in my life,” he stated. “At first, I was a little skeptical about returning to perform there, but everything went great. I’ve been clean and sober for several years now, and I appreciate the good things in my life these days. So, it was good to get back there. It was one more step in helping me put a lot of those old demons in the past.”

Growing up, Bates was influenced musically by artists like Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash and Otis Redding. At an early age, his talent was evident but the drug addiction and run-ins with the law seem to always block his path to a potential career in music. However, he became a born-again Christian and turned his life over God. Soon after, Bates was signed to a major recording contract with RCA Records. Each night on stage, he talks about his past and how blessed he is today.

“I’m very vocal about my faith because I feel we’re supposed to talk about it,” Bates said. “I’ve turned my life completely around and that’s because I accepted Jesus Christ into my life.

Naturally, some days are harder than others but He is always there holding my hand, and He continues to prove that to me daily. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”

In 2011, Bates released “One Day Closer.” The six-song EP marked his first complete project of gospel leaning material.

“I wanted to sing about things that would make me feel emotionally connected to life,” he explained. “I knew I wanted to include songs that were introspective yet would reflect my natural curiosity, and maybe everyone’s curiosity, about what comes after life.”

Bates is a proven hit-maker and consistent artist. In 2003, his debut album, “Rainbow Man,” was released. Three years later, he followed with “Leave the Light On.” Collectively, the two albums produced such singles as “The Love Song,” “Long Slow Kisses,” “Good People” and “One Second Chance.”

In 2008, Bates moved from RCA Records to the Black River Music Group. He was the label’s flagship artist. His self-titled project contained tunes like “Don’t Hate Me for Loving You,” “The One Thing” and “He Wasn’t Like Us.”

Beebe native Charles Haymes is a member of the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Email him at charleshaymes@gmail.com.

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