It is extremely hard to believe but I think we just had our first week without snow and temperatures in the 60’s. I actually got the opportunity to break my shorts out for a trip to the studio.

Sunday evening I had the incredible honor to be one of 6 honorees to be recognized by Oakwood University at their “Festival of Spirituals VI” bi-annual UNCF music festival. The award is given to individuals who have, in their opinion, made “significant contributions to society at large, and to the ARTS in particular.” Other individuals being recognized included painter, Howard Bullard, Operatic singer and founder of Ars Nova, Ms Ginger Beazley, minister and recording artist, T. Marshall Kelly, Mayor Loretta Spencer and Grammy award wining recording artists, Take 6. The award ceremony took place during the musical festival that symbolizes the very best in African-American musical tradition and heritage as celebrated by 12 colleges and universities.

As I received my award from Oakwood President, Dr. Delbert Baker and Representative Ms Laura Hall I felt very humbled that I was receiving recognition for something that I love and have such a passion for. To me it has been award enough to be able to do something every day that I love and now to be recognized as an artist … very special. I am grateful to Dr. Roy Malcolm for nominating me for this honor.

As I sat and listened to the majestic harmonies of each of the University choirs singing traditional black spirituals I could not help but think how much gospel music had been part of my early years. My grandfather was the head of the music department at Berry College in Rome, GA and my father a minister of music in the Southern Baptist Church. Both my father and grandfather sang in gospel quartets. As a kid, I had grown up with gospel music riding pews in church and sitting in folding chairs at tent revivals. For many years my family, which included my father, mother and my sister, sang as a gospel quartet. I held my own until puberty hit and I lost my tenor voice. I was promptly “fired” from the family quartet. Now that can have a daunting effect on a child for the rest of their life. Luckily for me God saw fit to give me another artistic outlet. As I sat there I could not help but wonder how proud my grandfather might be today. As for the family quartet, lets just say, I am still a photographer.

As for Oakwood University and my recognition, I am truly humbled and grateful. With that I give you one of my first introductions to the beauty of black spirituals from Oakwood.

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Best regards ……..