Beaufort County artists in the spotlight during SC Humanities Festival
[caption id="attachment_23815" align="alignright" width="125"] James McTeer[/caption]
The annual South Carolina Humanities Festival, taking place in Beaufort County June 9 – 11, will showcase the area’s arts, culture and history. Beaufort native James McTeer, winner of the First Novel Prize, will share the inspiration for his book, Minnow, and Verner Award recipient Marlena Smalls and Folk Heritage Award recipient Anita Singleton Prather (both Beaufort artists) will join forces with Hilton Head's Voices of El Shaddai choir for “The Music and Voices of the Sea Islands.” Arts, cultural and educational organizations from Beaufort to Bluffton and Hilton Head, including the Beaufort Arts Council, the Beaufort Film Society, and USC-Beaufort Center for the Arts will present lectures, films, tours, art shows, exhibits, performances and more around the theme of community collaboration.
[caption id="attachment_12334" align="alignright" width="125"] Anita Singleton Prather[/caption]
Find registration information and a complete schedule online.
About the South Carolina Humanities Festival
Every year, SC Humanities sponsors the Humanities Festival in a community in South Carolina. Started in 1993 in honor of the Council’s 20th Anniversary, the Humanities Festival has been held in 18 different South Carolina cities. Each festival celebrates the local history and culture of the host community, engaging the citizens in lectures, discussions, films, and exhibits and facilitating partnerships between cultural organizations and community groups.
McKissick Museum to host free symposium: Shared Traditions: Sacred Music in the South
The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum will host the music symposium Shared Traditions: Sacred Music in the South Feb. 26 -27, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. The program will feature live performances, a panel session, presentations, and music workshops. All Shared Traditions programs are free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the USC School of Music and Brookland Baptist Church.
Shared Traditions will start with a meet-and-greet with Gullah storyteller Anita Singleton-Prather at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at McKissick Museum on USC’s historic horseshoe. Singleton-Prather, a recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, is a singer, actress, and the director and producer of Broadway Back In Da' Woods Productions, a full-stage musical theater experience featuring the performance group The Gullah Kinfolk.
Friday evening will include a presentation at 6:30 p.m. by Dr. Eric Crawford on the topic of African-American spirituals in the South Carolina Sea Islands. Held at Johnson Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business on the USC campus, the talk will lead into a live performance of Circle Unbroken: A Gullah Journey from Africa to America by Singleton-Prather and The Gullah Kinfolk at 7 p.m.
Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia will host all program events on Saturday, Feb. 27. The day will begin with a panel presentation titled “Vocal Godliness: Gospel in Black and White” and will feature current research by graduate students from Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Following this session, Dr. Minuette Floyd will present on the topic of the music of the African-American camp meeting.
The keynote speaker, ethnomusicologist Dr. Cynthia Schmidt, will screen the award-winning documentary, The Language You Cry In, which tells the investigative story of discovering the significance of a Gullah song sung in the Mende language of Sierra Leone. Beginning with Dr. Lorenzo Turner’s research in South Carolina in the 1920s, the song becomes more layered in meaning through time on both sides of the Atlantic. Dr. Schmidt will share an update on her research and host a Q&A with the audience.
Following the keynote address, conference participants will have the opportunity to attend three music workshops focusing on shape-note and hymn-raising traditions. Led by practitioners and choir leaders, these workshops will provide the opportunity to learn about the history of these traditions and the chance to participate in fellowship and song. Saturday’s program will conclude with an evening concert, highlighting the songs and styles learned during the workshops.
A complete schedule is available on McKissick Museum's website. For more information, call Saddler Taylor at (803) 777-3714.
This program is funded in part by the Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina Arts Commission.
Image: The Gullah Kinfolk
Folk Heritage Awards can open doors for recipients
Nominate a traditional artist or advocate by December 16!
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards are presented by the South Carolina General Assembly to traditional arts practitioners and advocates throughout the state. In addition to honoring those working or supporting the traditional arts, the awards can help increase opportunities for individual artists and advocates. The 2014 recipient for Gullah advocacy, Anita Singleton-Prather of Beaufort (pictured right), has used her award as a productive tool to advance her career. The award opened the door for two major bookings for her group, Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk, at the Peace Center in Greenville and the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in Hilton Head. The award also brought significant local press to Prather’s work, as she was featured in Beaufort’s Island Packet and recognized by local community leaders.
Honor a traditional artist or traditional arts advocate from your community with a nomination by Dec. 16. Find the nomination instructions online or contact Doug Peach, (803) 734-8764.
The Folk Heritage Awards are named for the late Rep. Jean Laney Harris, who was an outspoken advocate for South Carolina's arts and cultural resources. The South Carolina Arts Commission partners with the University of South Carolina's McKissick Museum to administer the awards, which will be presented in May at the Statehouse.
Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk’s annual Christmas performance takes place Friday, Dec. 5 at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort Performing Arts Center. Ticket information is available online.
‘A dream come true’: Anita Singleton-Prather to receive Folk Heritage Award
From the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet:
by Lisa Annelouise Rentz
The first time I saw Anita Singleton-Prather perform was at Grand Army Hall, a historic building in downtown Beaufort not too far from where she lives. She and her Gullah Kinfolk ensemble were portraying the history of the Gullah community.
Singleton-Prather was dressed in old-timey clothes and used a tall walking stick to pound the floor with a rhythmic fierceness that gave an edge to her educational, joyous performance. I must've had the big-eyed look of "Oh please, not me!," because she pulled me up out of my seat and got me clapping and singing in front of the audience. It's hard work to perform on stage, no matter how experienced you are.
A few years later, she and I were working together in the local schools, integrating literary and performing arts across the curriculum. I watched her students transform the hallways into the Underground Railroad.
This year, Singleton-Prather is the recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. She's also making another movie, filming it here in Beaufort with producers who have worked internationally, and her Gullah Traveling Theater just received nonprofit status. I am very glad she's had the artistic freedom to achieve all this, and I am not referring to the "constraints" of the antebellum South. I am referring to our state legislators, who are actively denouncing books and plays. "Artistic freedom" is not word for nothing left to lose, as the old song goes, it means, instead, expertise and progress.
"This is a dream come true. Showcasing Beaufort is in my heart," Singleton-Prather said about her heritage award. "As you preserve the culture, the culture will preserve you. I'm so excited about the jobs people got because of this movie, and I brought in my former students and gave them something positive to see. Not everyone can sing like ("American Idol") Candice (Glover), but someone has to hold the camera and be the audio engineer. I'm always a teacher."
Inez Miller of St. Helena Island nominated Singleton-Prather for the heritage award from the South Carolina Arts Commission. She and Singleton-Prather connected 15 years ago when Miller's daughter Regina was attending St. Helena Island Elementary School.
"I enjoyed watching the children interact with what she does," Miller explained. "They learned from that. I found myself singing some of the spirituals she taught them. At the Heritage parade last year, Anita introduced the tennis team and said 'These are the future Venus and Serenas.' We're just watching the show, not thinking about them that way, but she's always on the job working, she's always finding a good moment, always giving us a reason to think."
Now Regina is a theater major at Columbia College. "I'm definitely a supporter of the arts," said her proud mother. "I'm a community-service type person, I volunteer a lot with Penn Center and Heritage Days. We need to showcase the talent, run with that, build upon that."
Singleton-Prather will receive the heritage award May 8 before the general assembly at the State House in Columbia, and her Gullah Kinfolk are the featured entertainers for the gala.
"This is not my award," she said. "It's the Aunt Pearlie Sue, Gullah Kinfolk, Beaufort County award. I could not have not done it without my pastor, my children, the Givens." She continued listing people, including the producers of her latest movie, and Ned Tupper, Suzanne Larson, Tracey Dingle, and her extended family who showed her the beauty of the Gullah language and folkways.
"They have been my support, covering me in prayer, keeping me going. My only regret is my mother and grandmother are not here, they were really supportive of every crazy idea I came up with. I was talking like I had a million dollars, but I had a vision, a mission of being a performer, preserving the Gullah culture, sharing with the world, developing pride and integrity for the young people. From now on I keep control of what I do. Thank God for my parents and grandparents who never denied our culture. If I decided to do 200 jumping jacks, my daddy wouldn't let me quit. That was the tenacity they gave me, to not give up on your dreams."
Or the freedom to produce the movies and sing the songs you choose.
Lisa Annelouise Rentz lives and writes in Beaufort.
South Carolina to honor 2014 Folk Heritage Award winners
Congratulations to Chris Boutwell of Lexington and Anita Singleton-Prather of Beaufort, who have been named the 2014 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients! The S.C. State Legislature will present the awards upon adjournment in the House Chamber, midday on May 8 at the Statehouse.
Boutwell, of Lexington, is being honored as a bluegrass musician. Since the 1960s, he has performed with numerous bands and mentored generations of bluegrass musicians. He shares the history of the music by telling stories about the songs he plays and is considered a “walking encyclopedia” of bluegrass knowledge.
Singleton-Prather, of Beaufort, is an entrepreneur, Gullah advocate, entertainer and master storyteller. She brings Gullah culture to countless people through “Aunt Pearlie Sue,” a character inspired by her grandmother. She is also the founder of the musical performance group The Gullah Kinfolk.
Following the Statehouse ceremony, a reception will be held at the Capstone House on the campus of the University of South Carolina. This informal event gives supporters and the general public the opportunity to celebrate the recipients’ artistic skills and lifetime commitment to the preservation and promotion of traditions rooted in place and community. The reception will take place in the Capstone Campus Room on the first floor.
The Folk Heritage Award is named for the late Jean Laney Harris, an ardent supporter of the state's cultural heritage. The award was created by the legislature in 1987 to recognize lifetime achievement in the folk arts. The artistic traditions represented by the award are significant because they have endured, often for hundreds of years. The South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina jointly manage the awards program.
For more information about the awards ceremony or reception, contact Saddler Taylor, McKissick Museum, at (803) 777-7251 or Doug Peach, S.C. Arts Commission, at (803) 734-8764. Also visit the McKissick website at www.cas.sc.edu/mcks/, or the S.C. Arts Commission website at SouthCarolinaArts.com.