Lyfe Jennings, with Demetria McKinney, Nathan Palmer, Paisha Love; Saturday, Oct. 14, 8 p.m.; 190 S. Cascade Ave., $28 - $128, 520-7469, pikespeakcenter.com
&B singer Lyfe Jennings has spent far more time in jail, and in gossip columns, than he ever will in the studio or on tour. The 39-year-old Toledo native’s offstage story includes spending 10 years in prison after being convicted of arson at the age of 14, and a three-year sentence for domestic violence in 2010. In between, he recorded a four-song demo, began playing amateur nights at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, and released a 2004 platinum-selling debut album, Lyfe 268-192
, its title a reference to his prison identification number. An R. Kelly fan whose favorite song is “I Believe I Can Fly,” Jennings quickly garnered critical acclaim for his gruff falsetto, instrumental versatility, and topical songwriting, with The New York Times
likening him to Donny Hathaway and Al Green. His lyrics — which mostly address God, women and inner city life — are smart, sharp, and sometimes a bit strange. “What if we were made in His image / But He wasn’t who we thought He was?” he sings on his latest album, Tree of Lyfe
, while the Tony! Toni! Toné!-flavored “Statistics” is intended as advice for the single ladies: “Twenty five percent of all men are unstable / Twenty five percent of all men can’t be faithful / Thirty percent of them don’t mean what they say /And ten percent of the remaining twenty is gay.” Good to know.