Courtesy of Shelle Fisher Davis
Ever since she used her hairbrush as a microphone, fantasizing she was Tammi Terrell performing alongside Marvin Gaye, Sabrina Tutstone wanted to be a singer. Now having toured to Europe twice and performed in a slew of venues, including prisons, the Columbus native says her dream has come true.
“I’ve been singing all my life. It’s just I didn’t recognize how it was going to turn out,” Tutstone said. “It’s my career now.”
The jazz-inspired gospel singer is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln Theatre as part of the “Backstage at the Lincoln” concert series.
The series, which is sponsored by the Greater Columbus Arts Council and Ohio Arts Council, features local artists and offers audiences the opportunity to sit onstage with the performer, according to the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts’ (CAPA) website.
Tutstone is no stranger to intimate performance settings, though. She used to take part in prison ministry tours, performing for inmates at several state and some federal penitentiaries.
“We just go in and sing to them,” she said, and joked that the audience usually enjoys getting to see a woman as well. “I’m not there to tease them. I want them to hear me singing and not try to lust. They forget about me being a woman before the show is over. They’re into the experience.”
Tutstone also regularly performs in Columbus as part of the Harmony Project.
The nonprofit “provides an opportunity for individuals of different racial backgrounds, religions, ages, political affiliations and sexual orientations to work toward performing at an artistic level they had never imagined, and bond through the collective experience of community service,” according to its website.
David Brown, project director, said Tutstone is important to the chemistry of the Columbus group.
“Every singer is welcome and every voice is appreciated. What Sabrina brings to the Harmony Project is vocal strength and experience,” Brown said. “She’s an amazing talent.”
While Tutstone has lived and performed in Columbus most of her career, she said one of her favorite performances was in Madrid as part of a gospel festival in 2010 and 2011.
She said the size of the city reminded her a bit of Columbus and performing for the people was enthralling.
“I was overwhelmed by their response. Some of them couldn’t speak English, but the music translated for them,” Tutstone said. “It just brought me to tears to be able to give a gift that you’re able to share and it’s appreciated in a way that you tried to give.”
Brown said Tutstone’s will to share her voice makes her a giver.
“It’s not just her voice that makes her so unique. It’s her story, it’s her experience,” Brown said. “She’s a giver. She really loves to give her talent, to give her time.”
Tutstone said she is looking to give her voice to audiences beyond the city and even beyond the states.
“I want to pick it up. I’m planning for that,” she said. “I want more stamps in my passport.”
Tickets for Thursday’s show are $10 and available through Ticketmaster or at the CAPA ticket center, located at 39 E. State St.