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By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
Internationally renowned jazz artist Freddy Cole, brother of legendary crooner Nat King Cole, will headline this year’s Livingstone College Spring Concert series.
Embracing Musical Excellence is the theme for this year’s musical performances, which begin at 6 p.m. Monday with an outdoor jazz concert.
On Tuesday, opera scenes, featuring Dr. Richard Heard, will be performed at 6 p.m. in Varick Auditorium.
At noon Wednesday in the Walls Center Chapel, a presentation on the life of William Grant Still will be given.
The concert series will culminate at 6 p.m. Thursday with a concert headlined by Freddy Cole & Trio that will also feature the Livingstone College Concert Band and the Livingstone College Concert Choir.
There is no admission charge for the concerts on Monday and Tuesday, or for Wednesday’s presentation.
Thursday night’s concert is $6 for adults and $2 for students.
Livingstone College students who show their IDs will be admitted free.
Sidney C. Sessoms Jr., director of bands at Livingstone College, said he chose “Embracing Musical Excellence” as this year’s theme for many reasons.
“To begin, I think the quality of the performances by both our concert band and concert choir demand that title, not to mention the caliber of artists scheduled to perform here next week,” Sessoms said. “We’re expecting our students and people in Salisbury, Rowan County and surrounding communities to come take advantage of the chance to see top-notch talent performing for such a nominal fee.”
On Monday night, The John Robertson Trio & Rosemary Rainey will perform on Livingstone College’s front lawn near the Dr. Julia P. Marshall Friendship Plaza, commonly referred to as Blue Bear Plaza. Opening for them is the Livingstone College Jazz Combo, under the direction of Dr. Gary L. Callahan.
“Dr. Callahan and I agree that jazz should be an integral part of any music program, particularly at an HBCU,” Sessoms said. “I’m excited about the jazz combo’s participation because I think it will really complement the Monday night concert.”
The John Robertson Trio is a popular jazz group in Atlanta, playing regularly at Dante’s Down the Hatch in Buckhead.
On Tuesday at 6 p.m., opera scenes will be performed by students at Livingstone and Catawba colleges, as well as Livingstone alum who participated in the band or choir while they were Blue Bears. Dr. Richard Heard, a national voice/opera star who is an associate professor of voice at Wake Forest University, will facilitate a master class and critique students on their performance.
On Wednesday at noon, Judith Anne Still, president of William Grant Still Music Company based in Flagstaff, Ariz., will conduct a workshop on her father, who is widely considered the dean of African-American composers.
And on Thursday, Cole, whose recording career has spanned more than 50 years, will perform. Cole leads the Freddy Cole Quartet, which regularly tours the United States, Europe, the Far East and South America. Cole has performed for U.S. presidents, kings and potentates.
“We’re looking for a capacity audience at every event,” Sessoms said. “Many colleges and universities from throughout North Carolina have been invited and I know that two busloads of people from Winston-Salem are coming on Thursday night for the Freddy Cole concert.”
Dr. DaVaughn Miller, chairman of the music department at Livingstone College, called this year’s lineup phenomenal. “The artists who are coming to perform at Livingstone College next week are exemplary, and it is my sincere hope that people come out in droves to hear them,” Miller said. “Because we are a historically black college, it was important to Mr. Sessoms to begin and end the week with jazz, given its historical significance not only to African-Americans but to people of all races. I look forward to the concert series and am grateful Livingstone College can provide four dynamic days of music to the public.”

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