Festival of Arts lets students use their talents for community

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — The 2012 Festival of the Arts took place Friday as part of the run-up to Village Fest in downtown Kannapolis.
Sponsored by Cooperative Christian Ministry to raise funds for their outreach programs, the annual event had a few changes in store.
Ed Hosack, executive director of Cooperative Christian Ministry, said the Cabarrus Events Association invited them to hold the event as part of the prelude to Village Fest.
“It’s been a wonderful fit,” he said.
“The essence of the Festival of the Arts is to allow our young people here in Kannapolis to use their talents in the community,” Hosack said.
In doing so, he said, they become a part of something much bigger than themselves.
Also new this year: In addition to A.L. Brown High School students, performers were chosen from among students at Early College High School.
Opened in 2009, the school is a cooperative venture among Cabarrus County Schools, Kannapolis City Schools and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, with classes at the college’s south campus in Concord.
Louise Bush, director of this year’s Festival of the Arts, is a teacher at Early College High School. She formerly taught at A.L. Brown.
“We have our usual mix of bands, vocals and dance,” Bush said.
“As always, it’s multicultural and we strive for as much diversity as possible.”
Several Early College High School students said Bush had encouraged them to perform.
Chris Davis, who performed a hip-hop dance to the song “Brainwash” by group Da Truth, was one of those. He said he was nervous at first about the prospect of dancing for a crowd.
“But everybody’s nervous,” Davis said. “I was sure of myself. I just let God do what he wants through me.”
Dawnya Rogers, a senior at A.L. Brown High, was another first-time performer.
She sang, a capella, the song “Love,” recorded by Music Soulchild.
“I grew up on that song,” said Rogers, who has been accepted at Brevard College and plans to study business and sports medicine.
Rogers said she chose the song for its message.
“Love is universal, and if you lose anyone close to you, you have to live with the memories,” she said.
For Kristina McClamrock, performing with fellow students Aesha Goodwin, Haqikah Moore and Kayla Little was a chance to show a different side of herself.
“People don’t usually see me as a dancer type,” McClamrock said.
The four are sophomores at Early College High School.
Goodwin chose a remix of music by several pop artists. “I just wanted a song that we could actually move to,” she said.
The four said Bush encouraged them to dance at the festival. As they practiced, their moves came together.
Bush said she held auditions to choose this year’s acts.
“It impresses me that these kids have the ability to improvise,” Bush said.
Also, Bush said, starting next year, Early College High School students will be eligible for the Frances Black Holland Scholarship, a $2,000 award named for the Kannapolis and Cabarrus schoolteacher.
This year’s Frances Black Holland Scholarship will be awarded Tuesday at A.L. Brown High School’s awards banquet.
During Friday’s program, performers paused to pay tribute to A.L. Brown graduate Santoria “Tori” Jordan, who died in February after a battle with leukemia.
Jordan, 20, had performed at the Festival of the Arts as a high school student.
Near the end of the event, Bush called Jordan’s family and fellow church members to the stage.
The family was presented with a frame with photos and a news clipping of Tori performing.
“She gave 100 percent of her God-given talents, whether she was singing or playing basketball, to her school,” Bush said.
Lisa Jordan, Tori’s mother, said the family was proud and grateful for the tribute.
“She sang, she loved to sing,” Lisa Jordan said. “Music was her life, it’s what she loved to do.”
Music also drew members of local band Based on a True Story back to their hometown.
Friday’s festival was a milestone. They first performed together at the 2011 Festival of the Arts.
“We’re a bunch of maniacs who were given guitars,” quipped Niles Collins, bassist and lead vocalist.
He and guitarist Andrew Calamari are A.L. Brown graduates. Drummer Zack Carpenter is a student.
They returned to the Festival of the Arts as part of a serious focus on getting their band off the ground,” Calamari said.
“We’re really trying to hit music hard, because that’s what we want to do with our lives,” Calamari said.
And, he said, the festival was a great way to reach their audience.
“I mean, basically this is the heart of the town. Everybody knows where Cannon Village is,” Calamari said.
“This town has a lot of history, and we want to make our mark as well.”
Carpenter said being a part of Cooperative Christian Ministry’s outreach is equally important.
“I came from a rough background, and to know I’m helping out somebody is a great feeling for me,” he said.
Hosack said the audience will hopefully leave with a better understanding not just of what Cooperative Christian Ministry does, but what talent lies in the community’s youth.
“Everyone has a gift,” Hosack said. “Everyone has a way they can make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.