Gregg Chapel AME Church and Third Chance Inc. will team up to recognize Black History Month in way they believe will inspire the community, a “Tribute to Black Composers” at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Gregg Chapel Life Center in Fort Walton Beach.
FORT WALTON BEACH — Gregg Chapel AME Church and Third Chance Inc. will team up to recognize Black History Month in a way they believe will inspire the community, a “Tribute to Black Composers.”
The concert will feature the Javacya Elite Chamber Orchestra, along with organist Joseph Greer, pianist Devin Stephenson, cellist Patrice Jackson and singer Darryl Tookes.
Jackson, originally from St. Louis, made her debut at 13 with the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to her classical credentials, she has played behind iconic artists, such as Alicia Keys, Kanye West, J-Cole and Stevie Wonder. She is an associate professor of cello at Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee in Boston.
Tookes is a singer, pianist and composer with 20 years’ worth of experience. He has worked with many legendary musicians, contributed to TV programs and was the pianist and musical director for “In Performance at the White House – The Singer and the Song,” a PBS special.
Stephenson is a trained classical pianist and president of Northwest Florida State College.
The event is at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Gregg Chapel Life Center, 15 Carson Drive SE, Fort Walton Beach. General admission is $40, and tickets are available at Eventbrite.com.
The Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor of Gregg Chapel, and Patrice Floyd, violinist, teacher and founder of the Javacya Arts Conservatory, answered some questions about the event by email.
Is this your first time hosting a "Tribute to Black Composers?" If so, what spawned the idea specifically?
Williams: “Tribute to Black Composers” is the name given for this specific series of shows. This is the first time Gregg Chapel AME Church and Third Chance Inc. have hosted an event of this nature. We have always wanted to bring a touch of culture and class to our community through the arts but never had the opportunity. This is especially exciting, for I am sure that this will be the first African-American fully conducted orchestra to perform in our area. We had planned to do a fundraiser for our Damon Stevenson Memorial Scholarship, and when we got the opportunity to bring The JAVACYA Elite Chamber Orchestra here amid Black History Month, it just all fit together. With this event, we have an opportunity to help our youth through scholarships and also enlarge their view of the arts.
What styles of music can people expect?
Floyd: Classical, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues.
How many performers are involved in the event?
Floyd: Forty-five, plus the internationally renowned vocalist, Darryl Tookes.
Why would you encourage people to attend?
Floyd: The orchestra is a combination of advancing young prodigies, graduate students, and professional players. This concert is extra special because, in America, there are few orchestras that will play so much variety in one concert. The cultural makeup of the Javacya Elite Chamber Orchestra is reflective of the society in which we live. Some have not seen this level of diversity in an American orchestra. Our mission is that every orchestra will reflect such.
What message do you hope the community will take away from this event?
Williams: I hope and pray that young minds are opened to something new and exciting. I hope the youth in the audience are taken to a place that has always been in their dreams but the reality seemingly out of touch. I want the kids of our community to see a different tool for expressing themselves in today’s society.
Floyd: Orchestra concerts can be fun, uplifting, and unify cultures.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Williams: A time to reflect upon the contributions of African-Americans and the how those contributions have added to this great place we call America.
Floyd: It is also a time to acknowledge what is not in traditional textbooks.