The Kingston native who works in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles will return to his Bartow County roots later this month for the holidays.
A 2000 Cass High graduate, Barton racked up honors from the school — Homecoming king, prom king, Mr. CHS, class president, and the list goes on — before attending Clark Atlanta University on a full scholarship. Today, he works with artists like Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Tom Cruise.
But the project closest to his heart is one closer to home.
“I am in the process of starting a foundation dedicated to my mom, Marcia Lynn Barton, whom I lost in 2011 to breast cancer,” Barton said via email. “It’s called The Pink Balloon Project. It has been established to bring awareness to this disease and support to the countless women who still have to endure this disease.”
Name: Brandon Tobias Barton
City of residence: The world
Occupation: Artist, chef, dancer/choreographer, visionary
Family: Mama, Marcia Lynn Barton; two brothers, Rodrick Cotton and Demaurio Barton; Granny Ann; and my dad, Barney Miller
Education: Graduated with honors from Cass High School and attended Clark Atlanta University on a full scholarship
How did you become involved with dance and choreography? And how did that lead to the entertainment industry?
A: I joined the dance team at Cass High School my sophomore year as a joke and actually fell in love with dancing. I always danced being that I come from a music-loving family, but I never took it serious. I was focused on my education and gymnastics during high school. One day after a performance at a Cass High basketball game, a lady came up to me and said, “You are really good; have you ever thought about being a professional dancer?” At that point I had never gave it thought. I was set on becoming the first black president and a lawyer. ... But, from that day forward, all I could think about was what that lady said to me, and I became engulfed with getting into the entertainment business as a dancer/choreographer. I still kept my grades superb so that I could get scholarships for school, being that I came from humble beginnings. However, post that conversation I became super focused on navigating my way to Hollywood.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your career thus far?
A: The highlight of my career has been being able to get paid to travel the world because of my God-given talents. I have been to some amazing places like Africa, Russia, Japan, Jerusalem, Peru, Argentina, Australia, Dubai, Morocco, Monaco, Germany, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Cannes, Saint Tropez, Serbia and Austria to name a few.
Some of the jobs that made me super proud were performing on the Academy Awards with the “Dreamgirls” cast; performing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” with the cast of the “Hairspray” movie; working with artists like Aaliyah, TLC, Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige; and appearing alongside Will Ferrell in “Blades of Glory” to name a few.
I was so blessed to start working in Los Angeles after being there for only two weeks. At the time I was only 18 years old. People were amazed by the fact that I came to Hollywood and made it happen instantly. I know that I was blessed and that my loved ones who were no longer on earth were watching over me.
Tell me about The Pink Balloon Project and how that was established.
A: I lost my mom, Marcia Lynn Barton, in May 2011 to breast cancer. It took me a while to be able to wrap my head around what transpired and accept it. My mom was such a joy to be around. She was “the life of the party.” Was she perfect? No. But who on this earth is? We all have our faults and shortcomings.
Every year since 2011 I have done a celebration event to celebrate my mama’s life. It usually takes place in Kingston around her birthday in May. However, this year I organized it in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the event turned out amazing. We do a big cookout/dinner, and during the event, we do a balloon release. After seeing the support this year, I decided to start a foundation/nonprofit to really carry on the legacy of my mom and support the countless number of women who still battle this disease. At the moment everything is in the beginning stages of set up with The Pink Balloon Project, but you will definitely be hearing more information about it in the months to come.
You have branched into the culinary world. What does that entail and how did you find your way into the kitchen?
A: I’m from the South, so I always cooked and enjoyed cooking. I have always loved watching cooking shows since I was a kid. Chef Julia Child was a joy to watch as a kid. Over the years, I got more and more into cooking from all the traveling I was doing. Being able to experience different cuisines from around the world was also a great influence. It heightened my palate.
Over the past two years, I decided to go full steam ahead with my culinary passion. At the moment I do private chef events — birthdays, home dinners, office lunches, etc. — and catering. I have begun a cooking webisode on YouTube, and I’m currently in the process of developing a cookbook and a cooking show. You can find more info on my website, www.chef-blove.com.
You are from Kingston. What advice would you give to people looking to break into “the business?”
A: As corny as it sounds, “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” If you want anything in life, you have to be passionate and put fear of failing aside. No one coached me or held my hand really in anything that I’ve accomplished. I had support from people, but I have always been the captain of my own ship. The thing that makes us not accomplish things is fear. Whatever it is that you are passionate about don’t be afraid to go for it. Every and anything is possible! I came from Kingston, Ga., and because I had a dream and went after it, it has allowed me to see the world and do things I only imagined.
What makes Bartow County special?
A: Bartow County is special because it’s home. No matter where I go in the world, when I come back to Bartow I feel at home and automatically comfortable. The “Southern hospitality” sentiment is completely true. Oh and not to forget the good ol’ home cooking. Also this is the place where I first discovered my dream and cultivated it.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: People would be surprised to know that I am terrified of flying. As much traveling as I’ve done over the years, I still fear it. But it’s nothing that a nice glass of red wine can’t fix. The fear stems from lack of control. I am a control freak — not in an overbearing way though.
What is your favorite meal?
A: My favorite meal would have to be oxtails, sauted cabbage, oven-fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, dressing, collards and gravy corn, also known as cream corn. Oh and don’t forget the cornbread.
Which artist — living or dead — would you most like to perform with?
A: The artist that I would most like to perform with would have to be Michael Jackson and James Brown. They both were such innovators with incredible stage showmanship.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?
A: Now this is a hard one, but I would say I would need my laptop, some red wine and wireless Internet.