There was a particular moment in 2017 where I was watching Crofton Coleman and The Amber Sky perform at The Accord, at the very end of the venue’s run, when I truly and honestly felt like my chest was going to explode from an overwhelming sense of joy. Here was a man channeling the best of Teddy Prendergast, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Luther Vandross, and Brandon T. Washington — and on stage in front of one hundred or so people, right here in little ol’ Champaign.
I feel like I’ve seen and heard a lot of people sing over the years; more than most, I’d argue, based solely on my career, which has been firmly rooted inside of live and recorded music. Very few singers in this community can do what Crofton can do with his pipes. He elevates melody. His vocal phrasings transcend the standard verse. His energy is palpable. He is the best crooner this city had to listen to over the past decade.
When he changed his stage name from Crofton Coleman to Melvin Knight, I almost fainted from sheer elation. What a name! What a perfect fucking name, for a man with these kind of pipes!
He also hasn’t performed locally for quite some time, outside of one play at C-U Folk and Roots Festival, because he moved away to the city of Chicago to pursue bigger stages and a more robust set of listeners, hoping to find more opportunities for success. Nevertheless, he was ours to start, and we’ll claim him as such from here on out. This fella has God given talent that cannot be taught. It is remarkable to hear him sing. (Seth Fein)
Photo by Sam Logan