01/27/14 — University of Mount Olive to host black history celebrations

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University of Mount Olive to host black history celebrations

By From staff reports
Published in News on January 27, 2014 1:46 PM

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Bill Myers

Performers from the "African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina" guidebook will be visiting the University of Mount Olive for a free, all-day program Wednesday, Feb. 12, in celebration of Black History Month.

The event will begin with a lecture from Michelle Lanier, co-author of the guidebook, and end with the music of Bill Myers and the Monitors, a Wilson-based band that formed more than 50 years ago and helped launch R&B legend Roberta Flack.

Michelle Lanier, the director of the NC African American Heritage Commission and senior program director of Traditions and Heritage at the N.C. Arts Council, will start the day with a lecture detailing the beginning and evolution of the current African American Music Trail centered in eastern North Carolina.

The music trail features more than 90 musical artists, including Bill Myers, who have made their mark nationally in the world of jazz, funk, blues and gospel.

Some of those artists, like Thelonious Monk from Rocky Mount, changed jazz history, while others, such as the Parker brothers and Dick Knight, have spent time on the road playing with R&B legends James Brown and Otis Redding.

Those artists were then interviewed to create a 218-page guidebook on Wayne County and the surrounding communities of eastern North Carolina.

"It was eye opening just how many people were, and still are out there making music -- fabulous musicians, and many not well known," said Beverly Patterson, co-author of the guidebook.

The guidebook is one of the three cultural tours written by the N.C. Arts Council and published by the UNC Press earlier this year. The other two are "Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina" and "Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina."

After Ms. Lanier's lecture, the afternoon will be filled with jazz, choral and gospel performances from on- and off-campus musicians at various locations across campus.

Acts are still being finalized, but the University of Mount Olive has announced that the Voices of Praise and the UMO Choir will perform during lunch and the UMO Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. William Ford, will perform during dinner in the Murphy Center.

The Monitors, the band that includes saxophonist Bill Myers, will begin its concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Mount Olive Assembly Hall, located at 207 Wooten St.

Other band members include Sam Lathan, Dick Knight, Gerald Hunter and Mollie Hunter.

The Monitors concert will follow the trail through songs, from church music to Broadway tunes, with commentary provided by Myers. The concert is free to the public.

"Cultural awareness, living history, compelling speakers and great music will highlight our celebration at the University of Mount Olive," event coordinator Mary Kerstetter said in a press release. "We hope that our campus academic community, local schools and Wayne and surrounding county residents will take advantage of our African American Music Celebration day of events."

The event is supported in part by a Grassroots Grant from the Arts Council of Wayne County. For more information, contact Mrs. Kerstetter at mkerstetter@moc.edu or call 919-920-3955.