With the help of Enough Pie, local artists and businesses — I will bring the kids of Bridgeview Village together through storytelling, song and dance. Bridgeview, my old stomping grounds, is an affordable housing community in the Upper Peninsula of Charleston, SC. I know first-hand that there’s a need for more activities for the youth who live there, especially ones that don’t involve running outside in 100 degree weather. My mission is to change the game by encouraging them through creativity.
Each year during Black History Month, the Auntie Karen Foundation hosts a concert and silent auction in Columbia, South Carolina. Legends of… is a tribute to the contributions African American musicians have made to history. “The series profiles a jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel or blues artist who has made a lasting contribution to the history of music.” (auntiekaren.org)
Gordon the Jamaican Yam, Auntie Karen and Olivia the Octopus
Thanks to my Auntie Karen I, along with many other music lovers in Columbia, was able to see musical legends: Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Babyface and Ashford and Simpson (to name a few) perform live over the years. This year’s concert featured Al Jarreau with the South Carolina Philharmonic. Out of all the artists I’ve seen, Jarreau appeared to be the most passionate about the Auntie Karen Foundation and the importance of the arts.
“You must teach children to be sensitive, and the arts are a workshop in human sensitivity. Any programs of that sort, we need to be supportive. Karen and her organization understand what is so wonderful and so basic about the arts.” -Al Jarreau via Free Times
Olivia and Al Jarreau Photo courtesy of Auntie Karen Foundation
The past 3 years I’ve been lucky enough to live tweet the Legends of…Concert & Silent Auction. In addition to falling in love with the open wine bar and yummy eats provided by local vendors, I’m also inspired by the guests’ energy level. They’re just so artsy! It’s great to see the community support the arts, as well as Black History Month. Not to mention how cool it feels to hear them say, “Oh wow! You’re Karen’s niece!”
Auntie Karen and I at Legends of 2015
My Auntie Karen was the first person to take my writing seriously. When I was about 5-years-old, I wrote a series of poems about the meaning of life, freedom and Dr. King. My mom sent them to my aunt (who still has them), and it was history from there. She made sure every single person she knew, also knew I was a young poet. Thanks to her, I participated in any opportunity she stumbled upon. Opportunities like reading my poems (with my cousins and sister as interpretive dancers) at Spoleto events, played a big role in my School of the Arts acceptance…and y’all know how much I love my arts education!
When I read those poems now, I can’t help but laugh because they’re awful, but AK still had my back! Even though I’d love to have her attention all to myself, she shares the same enthusiasm with kids all over the world. Who uses Jamaican Yams to teach kids about sickle-cell anemia and diabetes? Who uses a jazz-singing octopus to give hugs to kids effected by natural disasters and deployment? Auntie Karen does! Her legendary acts in the community don’t go unnoticed, and I’m so proud of her and the Auntie Karen Foundation!