By the time he was 6 years old, Jermaine Tindell was leading songs in his youth choir.
It was the same year he found out that he had sickle cell anemia.
Sickle cell anemia is a disease in which the body produces abnormally shaped red blood cells, like a crescent or sickle.
According to the National Institute of Health, the disease affects 1 in every 500 African-American births and 1 in 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanic-American births. More than 70,000 Americans have sickle cell disease.
But the disease and the loss of close relatives and a friend to other illnesses didn't stop Tindell from singing.
"It's in my DNA," said the 29-year-old St. Petersburg native. "My mom said I was singing around the house as an infant."
Thursday will be a huge day for Tindell, who will launch his first album, All I Want is U, and throw a benefit concert as part of Summer Jams 2011 at Jannus Live.
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In 2007, Tindell lost his sister and manager, Latrice Robinson Dennies, to triple negative breast cancer.
"It definitely affected my writing and the entire process of the album. The single, Now You Are Free, was written for her. Even though she's gone, I'm soldiering on and doing this concert in her name," Tindell said.
Soon after the death of his sister, Tindell's grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer and lost her battle in 2010.
"Everyone wanted to be excited for me because of the album, but at the same time we were all in mourning because we were losing people close to us from these diseases," he said.
But the sorrow didn't end there. The singer-songwriter recently lost a friend to lupus. "So many sad stories," he said, "but these are stories people need to hear."
"That's why it's so important to have these sorts of concerts and these voices so that we can raise money to get something done."
Thursday's concert doubles as a fundraiser as 60 percent of ticket sales will benefit Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (St. Petersburg chapter), Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Lupus Foundation of Florida and the St. Petersburg Police Department's Fallen Officers Fund of 2011.
Tindell is grateful that his parents gave him a good foundation in faith.
"I can't live in fear and depression. I have to be here today, present in my life. We need to raise money for this area and get as many people involved and aware as possible," he said. "Even if these diseases aren't a part of your life, they could be."
Tindell will have help spreading the word about these diseases.
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, lead singer of TLC, has sickle cell anemia and was told she would not live past 20. Watkins is now 40 years old and is the national spokeswoman for Sickle Cell Disease Association and will be on hand Thursday.
Katie Griffin, marketing and communications manager of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, says, "We're so grateful to have artists like Jermaine help promote the cause and encourage young people to get involved and learn more about breast cancer.
"We hope his efforts help others understand their risks and know how to get help if they need it."