Bailey Hinton, a 26-year-old Picayune, Mississippi-based gospel singer, was surprised to find himself performing at the Serena Williams-Alexis Ohanian New Orleans nuptials Thursday (Nov. 20). He knew he’d been hired for a private event, but he didn’t realize how private, until he was asked to put his cellphone in zip-lock bag and check it at the front desk of the Contemporary Arts Center, where the wedding was held.
“It’s not often you get to have superstars grooving to your sound,” he said.
By the end of the job, Hinton said, he’d laid eyes on Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rowland, and Shemar Moore, plus others he can’t now recall, not to mention the bride and groom.
Hinton had been invited to perform by buddy and fellow gospel singer DeWayne Crocker Jr., who also sang at the event. Crocker, 21, performed on the television gospel singing reality contest “Sunday Best,” which brought him some national attention.
Crocker, who lives in Pensacola, Florida, said that Williams’ wedding planner found him online. He accepted the job without knowing who the couple was. Then on Thursday, he said, “Serena was just walking around during the sound check.”
“It was dope,” he said.
Crocker had invited Hinton to join him at the gig and Hinton brought along Voloren Hudson, and Kyra Mickens, fellow members of his gospel group “Restored.” Hinton said the quartet was instructed to mingle as the crowd arrived at the CAC, then to begin singing in the midst of the guests.
Mickens, 21, who lives in Hattiesburg, said that “it was remarkable” to see celebrities in person. “It’s different than TV,” she said. “These people are normal. It is real.”
During the ceremony, the group sang along with a string ensemble on John Legend’s “All of Me” and Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married.” Finally, when the couple kissed, they launched into Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World.”
“It was real fun,” Hinton said of the experience.
Mickens said that her friends weren’t exactly jealous of her opportunity to sing at the big wedding. But they wondered why she didn’t tell them sooner. Of course, she was sworn to secrecy.
Hinton said he grew up singing in the church and styles himself after Ella Fitzgerald. In addition to his gospel career, he’s a member of the R&B group The New Orleans Wildlife Band.
Brides, grooms, wedding planners, and music fans who want to see Hinton perform can check out the New Orleans Wildlife Band on Wednesday (Nov. 22) at the Marigny Brasserie, 640 Frenchmen St. The 7 p.m. show is free. The band will also perform on Dec. 14 at Snug Harbor, at 626 Frenchmen St.