Charleston Singleton will help presenting the 2023 Moja Festival and guide the artistic planning | File photo by Ruta Smith

Charlton Singleton does not like downtime. Most people would be satisfied being part of a Grammy-winning jazz group, as Singleton is with Ranky Tanky. But the Charleston trumpeter and bandleader isn’t content to rest on his success. 

Last year, he moved from the Gullah-inspired jazz of Ranky Tanky to a more contemporary, smooth-jazz sound with his solo album, Date Night

Now, Singleton has shifted gears again for The Evolution of Pop, his new show at the Charleston Music Hall. For this show, Singleton and his band (which includes Ranky Tanky vocalist Quiana Parler) will concentrate on the most danceable hits of mega-superstars like Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Madonna and Whitney Houston. 

Singleton said he wanted to do something different for this show, part of a series of performances at the Music Hall.

“Our recent shows have been focused more on time periods,” Singleton said. “Charles [Carmody, the executive director at the Music Hall] and I were sort of brainstorming and came up with the idea of doing a pop show.”

The hit-packed, uptempo repertoire is designed to get people up and moving.

“A lot of pop music is centered around dancing,” Singleton said. “And one of the things that I think Charles wanted to do was make sure we get a show in there where he could showcase the fact that the Hall has the ability to take out those front chairs now. All of that area is gonna be open, and people can dance. So what better way to put that out there than having some great pop music?”

Some might be surprised by Singleton’s dip into mainstream pop, but working on different projects is part of who he is.

“One of the things I try to do is be versatile,” he said. “I think a lot of people see me as this jazz trumpet player around town, but I like listening to pop music, R&B, gospel — a wide variety. I enjoy it, and I hope everyone else does. Ranky Tanky is one thing, but Charlton Singleton and friends is a whole different kind of dance party.”

Actually, Singleton sees a connection between the dance pop he’ll be playing August 27 and the Lowcountry-rooted music he plays with Ranky Tanky.

“One of the things we like talking about with Ranky Tanky is how Gullah music has informed so many styles,” he said. “You can literally trace Gullah roots into pop music, jazz, spirituals and country music, so it’s a natural thing for me to play all of these different styles of music we’ve come to know and enjoy.” 

There’s another party on Singleton’s mind, too. He’s finishing up a new solo album that is, you might have guessed, nothing like the last couple of projects he’s been involved with. 

“I also have a new album I’ve been working on,” he said. “We’re just about done.  It’s gonna be more on the traditional jazz side, more like Miles Davis. We recorded the album a while ago, but I got another idea and wrote another song and another song. I kept adding on other tracks to it, but it’s finally done. It’s just a matter of coming up with a release date — probably sometime early- or mid-next month.”

After that? Well, maybe another Ranky Tanky album, or another pop concert, or basically whatever Singleton enjoys doing. 

“That’s the key word: enjoy,” he said. “I enjoy all of these types of music. When you like different types of music, it makes it really easy to do all of these things and want to continue them. Look at people like Prince or Stevie Wonder — they recorded in any kind of genre they wanted, just because they loved music and loved entertaining. So my love for entertaining, just enjoying what I do, makes it easy to do all these different types of music. I’ll never stop doing it.”

Charlton Singleton’s Evolution of Pop – 8 p.m. , Aug. 27. $22 (general), $17 (student).

Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St.

(843) 853-2252.

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