In the video above, Theron Denson visits the Fifth Quarter, where his singing career kicked off on a karaoke stage.
If you go
The Pointer Sisters, with opening act The Black Diamond. 8 p.m. June 24. Tickets $45, $55. The Clay Center. Call 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.org.CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- 'Unique' is an often misused word that should be trotted out only for something "existing as the only one or as the sole example."
Submitted for your consideration is something unique: Theron Denson, the world's only African-American Neil Diamond tribute singer.
For people who already know of "The Black Diamond," stay tuned for new developments as Neil Diamond's own percussionist and an acclaimed record producer are on board to produce a new CD by the Charleston native.
Meanwhile, head to the Clay Center Thursday to experience a West Virginia black man who sings like one of America's whitest singers when The Black Diamond opens for The Pointer Sisters in the FestivALL Charleston Mayor's Concert.
How does opening for The Pointer Sisters in a showcase venue in his hometown rate, careerwise, for a public housing kid who now calls Vegas home? "Oh, it's up at the top," says Denson, who came into town early for family time and a round of media interviews.
He ranks it right up there with a gig a few years ago on "The Jimmy Kimmel Show." Only an appearance on "The Oprah Show" might rival it, and The Black Diamond -- Oprah, if you're reading this, call Theron -- has a campaign underway.
"I'm in Chicago the next few months. I've booked a lot of shows there. I'm on a mission to get Oprah's attention before she exits the city."
He laughs. But anyone, especially those of us in the media, knows that if Theron Denson has your number, you'll be hearing from him.
Only a handful of city blocks separate the Clay Center and the Fifth Quarter restaurant on Clendenin Street. But that short distance speaks volumes about the distance Denson has come in his curious musical journey.
The year was 1997 and Denson had come for dinner. "They had that salad bar I like, that salad bar that went on for miles. Someone said 'Why don't you get up and do some karaoke?'"
He left the table. He would never return to his cherry tomatoes.
"I got up and did 'Sweet Caroline.' The audience seemed to like the song so much that I think I ended up doing a concert. People started requesting Neil Diamond tunes."
The seeds of the Black Diamond had been sown.
"At that point, I was kind of bitten by the -- wow -- the applause! So I went back the next week. And the next week ... I was just karaoke-ing all over Charleston and Huntington."
The Black Diamond Show did not officially commence until 2000. Denson is quick to add a shout-out to The Empty Glass, the Charleston club where he polished his style and shtick and found his first devoted fans.
But let's back up to that moment in West Virginia musical history when it was first pointed out to a young African-American kid that, hey, you really sound a lot like Neil Diamond!