See soul, funk legend Maceo Parker live May 11

Maceo Parker helped pioneer the sound of seminal icons James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and Prince.

Soul and funk saxophonist Maceo Parker will perform Friday, May 11, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Parker, 75, is a common thread in the history of funk, helping to pioneer the sound of seminal icons like James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and Prince, all while honing his own signature brand of showmanship. His bio describes him as “the living, breathing pulse which connects the history of funk in one golden thread. The cipher which unravels dance music down to its core.” San Francisco’s The Mercury News declared Parker “a funk titan.”

The 8 p.m. show is presented by UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $40, with $10 student tickets. Call 205-975-2787 or visit

Always at the forefront, Parker’s current band hits the road this season in celebration of repertoire spanning the prolific career of this funk legend. This show, part of his "50 Years of Funk" tour, will transport audiences back to the heyday of funk, with Parker’s incomparable level of artistry, showmanship and authenticity. “I feel it’s my duty as an artist to go as many places as I can, especially if the people want it,” Parker has said.  

A North Carolina native, Parker started making music early with his brothers. Parker’s uncle, the front man for The Blue Notes, was his first musical mentor. When Parker reached sixth grade, the Junior Blue Notes were brought by their uncle to perform between nightclub sets. This was his first experience on stage, and it started his love affair with performing. Parker grew up admiring saxophonists such as David “Fathead” Newman, Hank Crawford, Cannonball Adderley and King Curtis.

“I was crazy about Ray Charles and all his band, and of course particularly the horn players,” Parker said. By the age of 15, he had forged his own style on the tenor sax.

“I thought about ‘Maceo Parker plays Charlie Parker,’ and then I thought how about ‘Maceo Parker plays Maceo Parker.’ What would it be like to have young sax players listening to me and emulating my style of playing?” Parker said. Thus the “Maceo sound” was born. Parker’s signature style helped define Brown’s brand of funk, and “Maceo, I want you to blow!” became Brown’s signature phrase.