February 14, 2009
Sometimes my columns read like a catalog of events in The Golden Triangle. These are the you-had-to-be-there sort of occasions that mean little to those who did not attend. Maybe I sound like I''m bragging. But, a girl just can''t help it.
There are moments when we take for granted the richness that surrounds us. After my three years in Columbus, I thought I knew so very much about the area.
Last weekend we spent a beautiful afternoon enjoying a hint of spring, and the African-American Heritage Tour. I tried to warn you the free tours would quickly "sell out." However, even pros like me and my husband waited too long to reserve space.
We were placed on a waiting list and showed up as if we had a seat. Luckily, spots opened up and we scooted aboard Chuck Yarborough''s bus. (Thank you, Nancy Carpenter.)
I learned so much about free people of color and their lives in our area. We visited Sandfield Cemetery and Missionary Union Full Gospel Baptist Church.
The information was well-presented and well-researched. The lecture presentation was punctuated with short theatrical presentations by students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, a la "Tales From The Crypt."
Some very important leaders came from this area. Wouldn''t you just love to see a book about interesting African-Americans that Columbus can claim as native and adopted sons? Believe me, there is enough history to fill volumes.
We also attended the annual multi-cultural presentation known as "Mississippi''s Best." Mississippi State University is the setting for this art exhibit and concert. Did I mention that this, too, was free?
The visual arts were represented by painters and sculptors and photographers, all from northern Mississippi. Everyone was wowed by intricate pen and ink drawings, lightly tinted. I particularly loved the painted gourds, with open-work etching.
The headliner of the evening was Paul Thorn. His quirky lyrics and unpretentious charm are captivating. Like so many real talents, his genius is cloaked in a plain and humble package.
If you missed award-winning Nash Street at Columbus'' New Year''s Eve celebration, this was another chance to see the five extraordinarily gifted young people. They are all under age 25 and have already been named the best new act in country music.
What concert is complete without a touch of the spiritual? The Doss Family from West Point is a powerhouse of harmony and deep-rooted faith. Five sisters are led by their mother, Cinderella. With a name like that the performance has to be magic.
Eden Brent (a.k.a. "Little Boogaloo") spins her own spells with astonishing keyboard effects and husky vocals. She shimmered under the stage lights in a fiery red dress, swinging her long mane of shiny hair and flashing 10,000- watt smile.
Grandson of blues legend R. L. Burnside, Kent Burnside led the band, "The New Generation." This group is a sort of fusion of old and contemporary sounds, featuring wonderful musicians, especially violinist Rich Wilcox.
A finale of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken?" brought all performers to the stage and all audience members to their feet. Everyone left happy and humming.
Both the African-American Heritage Tour and the "Mississippi''s Best" concert and art show were free to all. They were supported by grants and funding from the Mississippi Arts Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts.
We hear so much about the economy. Many are giving up luxuries for the basics. But, it is my opinion that art and culture are not extravagances that must be sacrificed for things that seem more important. What is more important than the soul? Feed your psyche; your body will thank you. Aren''t you glad you live in a state that understands that?
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.