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2023 S.C. Arts Awards: Hampton Rembert

Folk Heritage Award: Artist Category

Graphic with white copy on a dark blue background overlaid on granite blocks. The white text reads South Carolina Arts Awards 2023. As the day nears for the 2023 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: five receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts from the South Carolina Arts Commission and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, managed jointly by the SCAC and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Raised on a sharecropper farm in Bishopville, 85-year-old Hampton Rembert has been singing gospel from a very young age.

He learned with his family who would sing on Sundays and during family reunions. With little formal education, Rembert started working at the age of 13, plowing with his own mule all day with his father. At age 20 he married his wife Mabel and joined the church that he still attends today, Unionville AME Church in Mayesville. Rembert was offered the job of assistant Sunday school superintendent at the church and was eventually promoted to superintendent. He held the position for 13 years before leaving to drive trucks, allowing him to see 28 different states. He continues to work today doing lawn services. Rembert worked hard at his professions throughout his life, and he always sang. He has 10 living siblings with whom he grew up singing. When they were younger, they formed a gospel choir of up to 21 members at one point. They would travel to sing at a different church every Sunday evening in Lee and Sumter counties. Singing is one of his greatest joys and an experience that connects him to his family and his faith, but his gift was threatened in 1998 after receiving a serious cancer diagnosis. One month after leaving the hospital from surgery he was diagnosed with another form of cancer and returned immediately for mouth and throat surgery. After that, there was a possibility that he would never talk, much less sing, again. Yet at 85 years and 25 years since that diagnosis, he still sings twice a month at his church and as often as he can with his siblings. Rembert credits the power of prayer from his friends and family for his recovery eventually testifying at his church just three months after surgery, with no small contribution from his attitude and tenacity. Written by Amanda Malloy, McKissick Museum
The South Carolina Arts Awards are coming live to SCETV on Sunday, May 14, 2023 at 8 p.m. ET. South Carolina ETV, the state’s public educational broadcasting network, will broadcast the awards ceremony through its 11-station TV network that spans the state. Viewers can access the broadcast via livestream on the homepage of SCETV.org; by using a digital antenna; or through cable, satellite, and streaming live TV providers. Further information about accessing SCETV is available here.

Jason Rapp

Gullah Geechee chef and gospel singer to receive 2023 Folk Heritage Awards


COLUMBIA, S.C. – For 2023, the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards will be presented by the General Assembly to honor a Gullah Geechee chef and a gospel singer whose talents keep the state’s traditional art forms alive.

The two practicing artists and are to be recognized as ambassadors of traditions significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature and the way it fuses artistic and utilitarian ideals. The Folk Heritage Awards are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum. The 2023 recipients are:
  • Emily Meggett: Artist, Gullah Geechee Chef (Edisto Island)
  • Hampton Rembert: Artist, Gospel Singing (Bishopville)
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. In the fall, nominations are sought from citizens across the state to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and president of the South Carolina Senate select the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. As McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz notes, "These artists are masters of longstanding South Carolina traditions. The meals that Emily Meggett prepares daily ensure that the culinary know-how of her Gullah Geechee kin gets passed along to and nurtures the next generation. Hampton Rembert’s gospel singing is a point of community pride and inspiration to all who have been touched by a music tradition that uplifts the human spirit, particularly in times of adversity. We thank them for their dedication to keeping alive the traditions that have become our shared South Carolina inheritance." “The recipients of this year’s Folk Heritage Awards embody South Carolina’s rich artistic traditions and our broad diversity as a people and society,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts said. “Their crafts connect our modern society to, and honor, South Carolina’s cultural past. They remain vibrant parts of rich tapestries that weave together people and communities across the Palmetto State today. We are all grateful for the way these artists enrich the lives of all South Carolinians.” Recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage and South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts Awards are honored during a broadcast presentation of the South Carolina Arts Awards, expected to air on South Carolina ETV this May at a date and time to be announced later. South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster will join Platts and Przybysz to honor award recipients.

About the 2023 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award Recipients

[caption id="attachment_52743" align="alignright" width="250"] Provided photo.[/caption] Emily Meggett | Edisto Island | Artist, Gullah Geechee Chef Gullah Geechee chef Emily H. Meggett, known by many as “M.P.,” was born in 1932 on Edisto Island, a place she calls “heaven on earth.” Meggett grew up on her grandparents’ farm, where they grew a wide variety of vegetables and kept livestock for butchering. Meggett learned traditional Gullah Geechee dishes standing next to her grandmother using ingredients grown on the farm. She honed her skills in the kitchen of wealthy white family’s Edisto Island house. Miss Julia, the Gullah head chef, had a mantra of “You do it right or you do it over.” Anything that wasn’t up to Ms. Julia’s standards went straight to the trash. Meggett married Edisto native Jessie Meggett and they built a four-room home on one acre of land for their 11 children. From there, she cooked for everyone in her family and, as she recalls, likely more than a hundred area children. Meggett’s family and friends long encouraged her to share her recipes in a cookbook, a novel concept to someone who never used one herself. She eventually relented, and a friend visited her daily to work on one recipe at a time. In April of 2022, Gullah Geechee Home Cooking was published and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. Among Meggett’s accolades is the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden. To this day, she wakes around two in the morning with inspiration of what to cook that day for all comers. When the door to her kitchen is open, you know you’ll be fed—no money needed, and no questions asked. [caption id="attachment_52744" align="alignright" width="250"] Credit: Amanda Malloy/McKIssick Museum[/caption] Hampton Rembert | Bishopville | Artist, Gospel Singing Raised on a sharecropper farm in Bishopville, 85-year-old Hampton Rembert has been singing gospel from a very young age. He learned with his family who would sing on Sundays and during family reunions. When he and 10 living siblings were younger, they formed a gospel choir of up to 21 members at one point that would sing at a different church every Sunday evening in Lee and Sumter counties. Rembert worked hard at his professions throughout his life. From working at his church to driving trucks through 28 states, and the lawn services he performs today, he always sang. Singing is one of his greatest joys and an experience that connects him to his family and his faith. His talent was threatened in 1998 with a prostate cancer diagnosis. Rembert had surgery in February, but one month after leaving the hospital, he was diagnosed with oral cancer and went back immediately for mouth and throat surgery. He knew that there was a possibility that he would never talk or sing again, a fear confirmed by his doctors. But Rembert credits the power of prayer from his friends and family for allowing him to testify at his church three months after surgery, and while that might be true, his attitude and tenacity played no small part. It has been 25 years since that diagnosis, and he still sings twice a month at his church and as often as he can with his siblings.

About the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum

The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and university holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit https://sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in four areas: arts learning, community and traditional arts, artist development, and arts industry. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Pearl Fryar gets national attention, new jazz band formed

Good morning! 

"Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...
A pair of #SCartists updates once again from "Tuning Up," so let's get to it.
  • National spotlight shines on Pearl Fryar: Bishopville's Pearl Fryar is a living legend. His work has brought untold amounts of delight to those who visit his topiary garden, spread over his own three acres in the tiny Lee County town. Often referred to as one of South Carolina's best secrets, that narrative is changing—quickly. Garden & Gun magazine published a feature on Fryar and his new apprentice, Mike Gibson, yesterday. Go check it out! Fryar received the Governor's Award for the Arts in 2013.
  • Charleston Jazz gaining Momentum: A brand-new jazz band debuts in Charleston this March under the auspices of Charleston Jazz. It's name? Well, no doubt you solved that puzzle. From an email: "The members of Momentum create an eclectic mix of Classic and Contemporary Fusion, R&B, Soul Jazz, and Gospel. Their music is inspired by Robert Glasper, Jon Batiste, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Jill Scott, and Snarky Puppy. Led by Demetrius Doctor (below), music director of the Royal Missionary Baptist Church, Momentum will be an exciting new group comprised of All-Star musicians!" Look for their debut March 11 as they perform 7 and 9:30 p.m. sets at Forte Jazz Lounge.

[caption id="attachment_48939" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Promo graphic of oranges cut horizontally, arranged on an orange background. It reads, "New Year, Fresh Start. Arts Project Support Grants." Artist or arts org in South Carolina? There is very likely arts project support available for YOU. Click graphic to learn more.[/caption]

Jason Rapp

Coastal Community Foundation of S.C. furthers SCAC grantmaking

Getting by with a little help from our friends

Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina

"Though not the only way, grants are among the main ways the SCAC accomplishes its work."

Savvy and/or loyal Hub readers should recognize that sentence as the opening line of the weekly "Grants Roundup" feature from Monday mornings. But did you know that grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission are made possible, except in either infrequent or limited circumstances, by public funding appropriated by the state General Assembly? One exception to that is the regular generous support of the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. In FY21, which marked 17 consecutive years of awards, the fund provided $33,197 to support the SCAC's efforts in subgranting to local arts organizations throughout the state and funding arts projects by individual #SCartists in select counties. Not all of the artists and projects listed below were directly funded by the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, but including them all could inspire another artist with a project in mind for which they might need a little help. So let's take a look at what artists, sorted by county, were up to in recently closed FY21 thanks to the SCAC's Arts Project Support Grants, funded in part by the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of CCF. (Ed. note: Expect a formal wrap on FY21 to come later this month.)

Julie Hamer | Anderson County

Ceramic artist Julie Hamer upgraded her current kiln and purchased a second pottery wheel with this grant funding. The new equipment allowed her to teach more students and increased her capacity to keep producing her own work while providing facilities for students to complete their projects. During the grant period, she taught in person and online, in group classes as well as private lessons. The second wheel also allowed her to provide demonstrations and introductory throwing opportunities at art events in the area. Her students ranged in age from six to 75, including multiple people who had never had the opportunity to learn pottery and have now gotten experience throwing on a wheel and creating their own works of art. One 75-year-old woman shared that she had wanted to try art her whole life, and Hamer’s pottery class was the very first class ever; now that she has tried it, she wants to do it for the rest of her life. The artist helped multiple students find resources to continue their pottery work, from setting up their own home studios to connecting with established local studios to allowing them to fire their work in her upgraded kiln.

Terrance Washington | Barnwell County

The funding supported artist Terrance Washington’s mobile exhibition of The Lucidity Collection, eight paintings utilizing imagery to evoke thought and conversation, internally or outspoken, colored by aesthetic relevancy of our present condition. The exhibit included live performances by singers and musicians to further elicit emotion and thought along with the visual works. The Lucidity Collection traveled to five different communities (Walterboro, Columbia, Blackville, Aiken, and Hampton) and continues to travel around South Carolina. The mobility of the exhibit allows it to be shown in rural locations without galleries, often in spaces that have other functions such as church halls and conference rooms. The artist reported experiencing professional growth as an artist and inspiring thought within each community.

Bhakti Hough | Lee County

“Jazzy Poetic: The South Carolina Jazz & Poetry Connection – Music and Words for Healing the Nation” was a virtual program featuring poets sharing their thoughts about poetry and reading or reciting from their works. The poets were former SC Poet Laureate Marjory Heath Wentworth; Columbia, SC, Poet Laureate Ed Madden; Len Lawson; and Felton Eaddy. The poets shared their works and explained how they think engaging poetry as reader, listener, or writer can help to ease anxiety and provide hope during the current public health crisis. The event also featured video and audio presentations of Bhakti Larry Hough and the Bhakti Project jazz combo reciting original poetry that paid tribute to other poets, the poetry of Claude McKay, and performing jazz poetry and the music of South Carolina native John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie. The project showcased some of the literary and musical artistry to which South Carolina lays claim, raising awareness of the kind and level of jazz and poetry performance that can be produced in local communities, some of which often “flies beneath the arts radar.”

Historic Marion Revitalization Association | Marion County

This project produced the first artistic mural in Marion, SC’s Historic District. A graphic designer was hired to create a "Greetings from Marion, SC" mural, in which photos of historic and significant places from around the area are rendered within the letters of “Marion” to look like a traditional postcard. The mural includes images of cotton fields, the Marion Museum, palmetto trees, tractors, the courthouse, and magnolia flowers. Artist Narzhio was hired to complete the mural in a little over two weeks. The project is paving the way for more art to come to Marion by inspiring further art creation and conversation within the community. The initial goal of the mural was to provide some artistic content in a town that considered itself to have “a nonexistent art scene.” The positive feedback on the project has expanded to include discussion about the mural both on site and on social media, with memories being shared of what it was like in the "good ol' days" and people talking about their favorite part of the mural. The artist has been in talks with several local business owners about more work, and the association has been approached about bringing art to other buildings downtown.

Robert Matheson | Newberry County/Bamberg County

Newberry-based artist Robert Matheson is creating “A Different View of Bamberg County,” a short film designed to introduce viewers to the beauty and assets found in the four largest cities of Bamberg County: Denmark, Bamberg, Olar, and Erhardt. Matheson worked with Bamberg artist James Wilson to collect still photography and drone video footage showcasing community assets found throughout the county. The final product will include voice and music. The video will be distributed via YouTube and social media channels, and the work will be shared with local media outlets and statewide art networks.

Dr. Eunjung Choi | Orangeburg County

With the support of this grant funding, musician Eunjung Choi recorded Celebrating Women Composers, a CD of classical music for piano. The project highlighted classical women composers and their musical influences and impact on Dr. Choi’s professional artistry. The featured composers included Cécile Chaminade, Teresa Carreño, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach. This project provided Dr. Choi an opportunity to grow as a professional artist through the exploration of women composers’ piano music. The completed CD can enhance the listeners’ knowledge of classical piano music of women composers with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Stephen Winkler | Orangeburg County

Stephen Winkler, graphic artist and CEO of 75 Flavas, showcased vinyl printing to children of all ages at Garden Oasis: Spring Seedling Day 2021 in Denmark, SC. After a demonstration to learn about heat transfers and t-shirt making, Parents and children produced their own unique shirts starting with the creation of their own vinyl design. Children also decorated raised garden beds in the park with precut vinyl numbers, letters, and flowers provided by the artist. The activities inspired the children to ask questions about starting their own graphic design businesses, and the artist was able to connect with a new community through the arts.

Bullets and Bandaids | Richland County

Bullets and Bandaids is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to further a living anthology of veterans, writers, and artists to celebrate our common humanity through a traveling art project spanning North and South Carolina. By giving veterans a platform to speak their truth, as well as an opportunity for civilians to take an active listening role, the program helps alleviate problems on an individual as well as communal level, covering issues like domestic violence, drug abuse, and suicidal ideation. The program also provides a venue for local artists, writers, and businesses to join in the celebration of their own potential in all the communities they impact. With this funding, the organization was able to set up workshops through Veterans Affairs in Columbia to teach creative nonfiction to veterans from multiple demographics; set up workshops through the Arken Media Group to teach veterans photography therapy; and collect stories from across the Carolinas through online linking through the VAs, as well as independent organizations like Brothers and Sisters Like These, the Charlotte Art League, and local VFWs. The organization continues to collect work by artists from South Carolina, create and edit voiceovers for veterans’ stories, create merchandise designs from veterans and artists, and connect with local writers to amplify veterans’ stories. In addition, this project resulted in three-time presidential advisor Henry Lozano joining the organization’s Board of Directors, providing greater connections within the veteran community and guidance and resources to a degree that was beyond their expectation at this point in their development.

Jason Rapp

Young violinists! Apply for Florence Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition

Talented violinists enrolled in grades 9-12 who love performing are encouraged to enter the third annual Florence Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition. The competition is open to young violinists with home addresses in Darlington, Dillion, Florence, Lee, Marion or Marlboro counties. Applications, along with a performance CD, must be received by January 3, 2014. Finalists will be notified immediately and assigned a time to perform before a panel of judges on January 25, 2014, at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. Prizewinners will be invited to perform their audition composition accompanied by the Florence Symphony Orchestra at the March 31, 2014, concert. Find more information and apply online. Via: Florence Symphony Orchestra

Downtown Florence seeks outdoor work of art

The Florence Downtown Development Corporation seeks to commission a free-standing or wall-mounted outdoor work of art to add to the beautification, redevelopment and regeneration of downtown Florence. The artwork chosen for 2013 will be the first piece in what will become the Florence Downtown Sculpture Garden/Courtyard. This opportunity is open to visual artists, ages 18 and older. Proposals from all geographic areas of the United States are welcome, however, preference will be given to artists who live, work or create in the Pee Dee (Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Lee, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg counties). Submissions must be postmarked by October 31, 2012, or hand-delivered by 5:30 p.m. to the Florence Downtown Development Offices at 218 West Evans, Florence, S.C. Applications will not be accepted by fax or email. All artists will be notified of the selection results by November 30, 2012. Selected work must be installed by April 30, 2013. Read the request for proposals for complete details and contact information: Outdoor Work of Art RFP-Florence 2012 (PDF) Note: The RFP refers to an Oct. 19 deadline for materials. Oct. 31 is the correct deadline. Via: Florence Downtown Development Corporation  


Four artists included in 2013 S.C. African-American history calendar

Four artists with S.C. connections are included in the just-released 2013 South Carolina African-American history calendar sponsored by AT&T South Carolina. These native South Carolinians have gained national and international acclaim for their work:

  • Opera singer Gwendolyn Bradley of Bishopville made her debut at the MET in 1981 and has achieved international fame.
  • Marie Brailey (deceased) and her son Willie Van Brailey, natives of Orangeburg, each worked at the art of chair caning for 50 years. Mrs. Brailey received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1997, and Mr. Brailey received the award in 2011.
  • Celebrated poet Nikky Finney was born in Conway. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split, was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.
  • Painter, sculptor and printmaker Otto Neals was born in Lake City. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.
Read more about these artists by visiting the calendar website and clicking "Download the 2013 calendar." More information is also available in this article from The State. Via: AT&T South Carolina, The State  


Florence Museum invites entries to Pee Dee Regional Art Competition

The 59th annual Pee Dee Regional is the oldest continuing art competition in South Carolina, according to the folks at the Florence Museum. Entries for the 2012 competition will be accepted Sept. 20-22, and the exhibition will be presented by the museum's board of trustees Oct. 5 through Dec. 16. Artists who are natives or residents of these counties are eligible to enter: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter and Williamsburg. This year's competition judge is artist Jane Allen Nodine, professor of art and director of the Curtis R. Harley Gallery at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg. Visit the Florence Museum's website for more information and to download a prospectus and registration form. [caption id="attachment_682" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Interrogate 33 by Jim Boden Jim Boden's Interrogate 33 received top honors at the 2011 Pee Dee Regional Art Competition[/caption] via: Florence Museum