It's Fun to Sing at the YMCA

The ballad of Clark "Motown" Adams, man without a mic

"I don't know what it is about people in Minnesota. The only place you can [get] good old hometown down-to-earth hospitality is from seniors in church. It's a change I've never seen. Even in California, people speak to you. They might have something wrong, but they're still hospitable. Here, it's like something really wrong happened. I don't know what it is, but people are killing each other, and it's a small place. It's like we're not close anymore. It's a shame."

Adams has 72 nieces and nephews scattered across the country. His family gets together once a year for a reunion, and often they sing. If you can't get down there, you can hear Clark "Motown" Adams sing at the Blaisdell Y—sing the way he sang work songs while tilling the farm in Arkansas; the way he sang gospel songs in his mother's and brother's churches; the way he sang country and western in the country bars of California; the way he sang ballads in the cantinas of Mexico; the way he sang soul-funk on stage and in the studio with Earth, Wind and Fire; the way he sang soul chestnuts on the streets of Hollywood; the way he's sung at the countless odd jobs—tour bus driver, carpenter, church bus driver, mechanic, chauffeur—he's had over the years.

"I'd like to go on American Idol, just to go have a good time," he concludes. "I know I have a gift from God, and if I could just give back to him with all of my best, some old school or something like that. I would knock 'em dead. They'd be left with like, 'Who was that?' 'Who was that guy?' I'd give 'em something to remember."

Imagine if the photographer had asked Clark Adams to smile for the camera!
Tony Nelson
Imagine if the photographer had asked Clark Adams to smile for the camera!

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or jwalsh@citypages.com

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