The Richmond Area Arts Council and the Richmond and Madison County NAACP presented “An Evening of Elegance” at the EKU Center for the Arts on Friday, January 26. Those in attendance were entertained by a phenomenal group of Kentucky musicians.
The Kentucky State University Choir under the direction of Dr. Keith McCutchen launched the evening with “Lift Every Voice Sing.” After the choir’s presentation, Dr. Kathy Bullock and Dr. Randy Westbrook welcomed the special guests and the attendees, Ms. Lutisha Coleman and was presented the NAACP/RAAC Legacy Award for teaching music in Fayette County Elementary and Middle Schools. Her son, Lawrence Coleman, then sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and was accompanied by his 91-year-old mother on the piano.
The second NAACP/RAAC was presented to Dr. Carl Smith, the Professor Emeritus at Kentucky State University, followed by Wendy Sherman who sang “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” with Dr. Kathy Bullock on the piano.
Following the Legacy Awards, the guests were treated to several songs. First, 11-year-old Kaydence Ware sang “I’ll Rise Up” accompanied by Dr. Kathy Bullock on the piano. Next, Maranda Brooks presented an excellent rendition of “Amen” with Dr. Randy Westbrook playing the piano. Kor’ee Jackson, a Louisville violinist, played “You Know My Name, and Deloris Boone “Bootsie” followed Jackson with two songs, “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Down Home Blues” with Dr. Westbrook on the piano.
During the third section of the evening, Mayor Robert Blythe honored two Richmond High School music teachers and a former Berea College educator. The two Richmond High School educators honored were Ms. Marian T. Nelson Curry and Mr. Andrew Miller. Ms. Curry taught music and was the librarian. Mr. Miller was a high school music and elementary school teacher. Ms. Julia Britton Hooks, a musician and educator at Berea College was the “Angel of Beale Street” who was honored. Mayor Blythe reminded the crowd that Ms. Hooks was the grandmother of Benjamin Hooks, the civil rights leader and Baptist minister from Memphis.
Following these special acknowledgements, the audience heard the following. Mary Jackson sang a medley of “Swing Low/Over My Head” with Dr. Keith McCutchen on the piano. Frankfort native and saxophone player Brooks Giles III played “Take the A Train” and “I Want to Talk About You.” Letitia Allen entertained the audience with “Slow Jam” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It” with Dr. Westbrook on piano once again. The fourth set ended with Dr. Westbrook on the piano and Richmond’s own drummer Bones Burdette playing “River Deep-Mountain High.” Dr. Kathy Bullock surprised Dr. Randy Westbrook with a special award for bringing the community together to celebrate the “Evenings of Elegance” over the last several years.
The Kentucky State University Choir under the direction of Dr. Keith McCutchen concluded the evening with renditions of an “Ellington Medley” and “Spiritual Medley.” Violinist Kor’ee Jackson and Brooks Giles III on saxophone joined the Kentucky State University Choir on the last song. A friend of the Choir also joined the group with an entertaining tap dance.
After Ms. Lutisha Coleman and Dr. Carl Smith thanked everyone for their Legacy recognitions, NAACP President Mitch Brown presented a few remarks and closed the show with a Benediction. Standing ovations were also awarded all night.