“This very aspect of who I am is as person was shaped from the South. I’m a Southern boy for sure.”

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Hallmark Movies & Mysteries debuted a brand-new murder mystery franchise earlier this week. Redemption in Cherry Springs centers around Melanie, an award-winning investigative journalist who returns to her hometown for some rest after a major story she covered ruffled some feathers in the big city. Melanie has come to stay with her Uncle Joe, played by the fabulous Frankie Faison, whom you may recognize from Coming to America or Grey's Anatomy. But Melanie's quiet time is interrupted when one of her childhood friends goes missing.

The investigative reporter gets to work hunting for clues and eventually teaming up with Cherry Springs' new detective, Jake Collins. He's reluctant at first, but eventually accepts Melanie's help. This mystery will keep you guessing and it's going to leave you wanting more. Truly, we end on a real cliffhanger! Southern Living recently spoke to the man behind Detective Jake Collins, Keith Robinson about this role and his deep Southern roots.

Redemption in Cherry Springs Keith Robinson
Credit: ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/David Scott Holloway

Robinson said that playing a detective in a mystery series was a long-term goal of his. "It was on my bucket list of genres I would like to play so I really enjoyed it."

"I love Columbo and I loved Kojak and these guys when I was little. I still remember my father was a huge detective, mystery guy," he said of his inspiration for his character. Adding, "Interrogation scenes are fun. You always see those with various great actors like Denzel and Pacino, so I guess I kind fanned out and channeled a collective of those guys."

Robinson resides in LA now, but he has deep Southern roots. Born in Kentucky but lived in Greenville, South Carolina until the 8th grade. "What I remember about Greenville is it's a really great place to grow up as a child. Big on sports. Clemson runs Greenville. If you're a college football fan, Clemson runs that town," he said with a laugh.

"I just have great childhood memories being in the neighborhood. Being on my BMX bike and being across the entire city and back by sundown, which you can't do now." In 8th grade, Robinson's family moved to Augusta, Georgia, where he continued to play sports. But he also blossomed as an artist there as well. "It's the home of James Brown and I was in a band. A singing group that I got into in high school and that kinda started my journey into Hollywood," he said.

Robinson carried the music with him as he went from Augusta to Athens to attend the University of Georgia where he joined another band, and this is where his fate in entertainment was sealed. "[We] started singing on campus and we eventually journeyed back and forth to Atlanta, Georgia, and we caught the attention of a concert promoter… he had a big concert and a production deal with Motown Records, and we were the band that he signed." He and his bandmates left school to try their luck out in Los Angeles, and this is where Robinson got the acting bug as well. He's been fortunate to find success in both industries—he has a new album coming out soon, Love Episodic 2, and will be in not one but two Hallmark Christmas movies this coming season. Through all of his success, Robinson hasn't forgotten where he comes from or where his family is.

"I miss the family. My mom and dad are there. I love how sports oriented the South is because I'm a sports fanatic and the food is amazing. The food is extra calories but they're worth it. It's really what I grew up on. This very aspect of who I am is as person was shaped from the South. I'm a Southern boy for sure."