Arts & Entertainment

SOPAC Performer Booker T. Says Music, Not Medicine, Was His True Calling

Booker T. Jones will perform Saturday, March 2 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – It’s hard to believe that Booker T. Jones originally wanted to be a doctor. That's right – it was only after Jones realized he was not proficient enough in chemistry and biology to work in medicine that he decided to pursue his love of music.

Jones’ decision has earned him four Grammys, an induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the opportunity to perform in many different places, including South Orange, which he remembers as “a beautiful place.” He said he looks forward to returning on Saturday, March 2 when he brings his music to the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

“My music means an inestimable amount (to me) at this point in my life and also earlier in my life,” Jones said. “It means more to me now because it seems to mean something to other people as well. It’s just something that has defined my life from the time that I decided I wasn’t good enough to become a doctor.”

Sign Up for E-News

What makes Jones’s music different from most other performers’ is its timelessness. The songs of Booker T. and the M.G.s have been enjoyed by people from the 1960s through 2013, and they have even been sampled by popular modern artists (Jones’ favorite is Jay Z and Kanye West’s take on Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” which featured Booker T. and the M.G.’s as background musicians). Jones said the reason his work is still appreciated today is its accessibility.

“The music comes from a place that people can relate to no matter what age they are,” he said. “It’s simple and easy to listen to.”

According to Jones, the music of Booker T. and the M.G.s came to be almost by accident. While still in high school, Jones was a member of the Stax Records house band with the M.G.s. When an artist either finished a session early or never showed up (Jones cannot remember which), the group took advantage of the empty studio and recorded the song “Behave Yourself,” which Stax wanted to release. “Green Onions” followed, and a hit album was born.

But for Jones, “Green Onions” was much more than a successful album – it provided the means to achieve his goal of a college education. Though he said many people asked him not to attend Indiana University following the success of the album, Jones is grateful that he did.

“I think my music career was enhanced as the years went by,” Jones said. “As I studied composition at Indiana, and as I studied conducting and orchestra and theory, those elements went into the songs I recorded at Stax and with the M.G.s.”

Jones said his proudest accomplishment was when his alma mater presented him with an honorary doctorate degree. For Jones, who remembers how much trouble he had just getting accepted into the university, speaking at the same school where he was a student was like coming full circle.

“That symbolized that I’m a person who knows a lot about music, and that’s really gratifying to me,” Jones said.

His SOPAC show will feature songs from Booker T. and the M.G.s, his solo career, his time in the Stax house band and his years as a producer. Of course, audiences will also most likely get to hear Jones' favorite – “Green Onions.”

“Hopefully I’ll be able to give them an experience that they won’t be able to get anyplace else,” he said. “They’ll hear music that’s sincere and unique and enjoyable, and hopefully it’ll be a good evening for them to relax and let go of some troubles… and just listen to some good music.”

Tickets are $35 and $45 for the general public and $30 and $40 for SOPAC members. They can be purchased by calling 973-313-2787 or going to For more information on Booker T. Jones visit    

The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Of Dull Elections, Pool Waivers and Vandalism

After a historic Township Committee election in 2017 that brought us the first openly gay member of the TC, and then a split vote for mayor in which Vic DeLuca retained his post in a last-minute surprise, 2018 could prove to be the dullest campaign in years.

That’s because incumbents Nancy Adams and Greg Lembrich are running unopposed in the upcoming Democratic primary, and no one is ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 14

On this week’s AtlantiCast, an internationally recognized orthopedic oncologist takes a leadership role at Atlantic Health System, see the newest weapon in the fight against HPV-related cancers, Atlantic Health System leads the Castle Connolly / Inside Jersey Rankings, and much more!


South Orange Police Blotter - Theft and Burglary Reported

April 19, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of April 19

Theft - An East Orange resident reported that on Tuesday, April 17, at approximately 9:20 a.m., actor(s) unknown stole some tools from a construction site on Valley Street. The stolen tools, valued at over $500.00 were a Makita brand drill set and electrical saw.

Burglary to Auto - An Irvington resident reported that on Thursday, April ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Three Arrests Reported

South Orange Police Blotter as of April 12

Adult Arrest - Sean Carr, a 30 year old West Orange resident, was arrested on Saturday, April 7, at approximately 10:30 a.m. for attempted auto theft. Officers responded to the Cleanway Car Wash on Irvington Avenue where employees had a subject detained (Carr) who had just tried to steal a vehicle from the car wash. Officers arrested Carr and ...

41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance Held on Sunday

April 19, 2018

MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance was held on Sunday, April 15. The march assembled in Spiotta Park on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood, and was called to order with the blowing of the shofar.

Local elected officials who attended included Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis, and ...

Water Main Break on Baker Street in Maplewood Wednesday Morning

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Maplewood police reported receiving a call from a commuter on his way to work who noticed a small geyser of water in front of 34 Baker St., next to the driveway to the Maplewood Country Club. 

According to Maplewood police, they requested assistance from New Jersey American Water to shut off the water, but as of 7:10 a.m., ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, April 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, April 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Maplewood Memorial Library, Maplewood

Spring Book Sale - Friends of Maplewood Library

Education Giving Back Other


Sat, April 21, 12:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Millburn Library Annual Book Sale

Meet Kendra Johnson, Montclair's First African-American Superintendent

April 18, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Kendra V. Johnson, J.D., Ph.D., has been selected as Montclair’s permanent Superintendent of schools after an extensive search, the Montclair Board of Education announced at a special meeting on April 11. She is the district’s first permanent superintendent in three years, and the first African-American superintendent in its 144-year ...

Man Charged With Kidnapping and Assaulting Essex County Victim

NEWARK, NJ – A New York man appeared in federal court last week to face allegations that he assaulted and kidnapped an individual who had a protection order against him, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

Rudolf Szoradi, 50, is charged by four-count criminal complaint with kidnapping, transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines, interstate domestic violence and interstate ...

Atlantic Health Among Six Regional Health Systems Forming Clinical Research Consortium

April 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Seeking to bring clinical trials and innovations in medicine even closer to home, Atlantic Health System, parent company of Summit's Overlook Medical Center, is now part of a group of six regional health systems that are founding members of a nonprofit clinical research consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research (PIER Consortium) ...

Summit's Central Church, Willis Mission Fund Award $20,000 Grant to Bridges Outreach

SUMMIT, NJ -- Bridges Outreach has been awarded a $20,000 grant to provide case management services to individuals in Newark who are experiencing homelessness by the The Lena Willis Mission Fund of Central Presbyterian Church of Summit.

The grant will provide seven individuals with access to job readiness, internships, employment and rental assistance and ultimately, independence. Each ...

Two South Orange Residents to Be Honored by Temple B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills

April 19, 2018

South Orange residents Charles Oransky and Fredric Smith will be honored by Temple B'nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, at a gala celebration commemorating the synagogue’s 170th anniversary, May 10. The evening's theme, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, pays tribute to the temple's past presidents, the Interfaith Hospitality Network’s founding organizers and the ...

South Mountain YMCA Honors Eighth Grader Who Organized Massive Food and Clothes Drive

A trip to Manhattan with the South Mountain YMCA shaped Daniel Goldsmith’s life. “As we headed toward Bryant Park, I saw a homeless man lying under some scaffolding, and I remember he had a sign saying `Please give me money … I am starving.’ ”

The experience moved Goldsmith to action: For his Eagle Scout project, the South Orange Middle School eighth grader ...

Pitch Perfect: Top 10 A Cappella Group Comes to Millburn

Millburn High graduate Samuel Dantowitz is bringing his award-winning a cappella group home for an evening of music. Northeast ICCA Champions, Upper Structure, will be holding a concert Thursday, April 19. Newark Academy's a cappella group LumeNAtion will open the show. The concert will take place in Christ Church at 7 p.m. 66 Highland Ave, Short Hills, NJ 07078. Tickets are $15 adult / $10 ...