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5 MINUTES WITH impersonator Jessie Sumter

If you've been in the Columbia area and thought you might have spotted the Godfather of Soul, don't question your sanity. It's more than likely local James Brown doppelganger Jesse Sumter. You may have seen him with his moniker Jesse James Brown and the Infinite Divas at a comedy concert or even opening for The Manhattans at the baseball park for the Cornbread Festival. We sat down with Sumter and he even talked about meeting his idol. Do yourself a favor and Youtube the videos. Enjoy.

For the people that don't know you, tell us about yourself.

I'm Jessie Sumter and a grad from Hopkins High and Allen University. I started doing my James Brown impersonation after winning a karaoke contest and kept it going. I've been honoring James Brown like this for thirty years.

You ever got a chance to meet James Brown?

Yes, I met him. It was in Marion, South Carolina and the security guard for the show said, “You look just like Mr. Brown!” While James was on stage he just kept looking at me. He signaled his people for them to let me see him after the show. We talked for about fifteen twenty minutes. He was impressed by me and I jokingly told him we weren't related and that I wasn't his kid or anything. I told him I'm just someone that want to continue his legacy and he thought that was great.

Tell us about some of your favorite songs to perform.

First of all I don't lip synch. People are surprised when I tell them that. My favorite songs to do are “I Feel Good” but no matter the show people love for me to end it on “Please, Please, Please” where I do the cape thing.

Have you come across other celebrities thinking you were James?

I met a few celebrities. I met (comedian) Mike Epps. I met him at a hotel and didn't know who he was and he was like, “you look just like him!” We even did a video together and anytime he comes in town he asks me to come out. I've also met Kevin Hart, and he's shorter than me.

Preach Jacobs, special to GoColumbia