By MARIE NESMITH
To further its objective to “encourage participation, discover, present and document the heritage” of local African Americans, the African-American History Initiative will present “The Sound of Africa” Feb. 6. Taking place at the First Presbyterian Church of Cartersville, the 7 p.m. concert will feature The Black History Celebration Choir, conducted by Ahmad Hall.
“The African-American History Initiative formed in 2018 to give broader function to the African-American Quilt Documentation Project,” said Mina Harper, chairwoman of Etowah Valley Historical Society’s African-American History Initiative. “The programs completed in the quilt project made it obvious that there was much to explore in the African-American history and culture of Bartow both with and beyond quilts. There is also an abundance of talent in the African-American community, so naturally, their history and culture could be presented publicly through the arts.”
Harper shared the program “divides the sequence of acts into five historical periods,” starting with Africa and ending with present day. Along with a dance performance, the event will showcase various songs, such as “Move Daniel,” “Jubilee” and “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess.”
“What can attendees hope to take away from the concert?” Harper said. “You might leave elevated, blessed. When Chi Reed sings, it gratifies the soul, brings tears to one’s eyes. When Ahmad speaks, it’s worth hearing. You will certainly learn about history while transported in song.
“However, this program is only the tip of the iceberg as to what can be presented in African-American musical history by local talent. With whatever we learn on the subject or on local history in general, it enriches our life to penetrate the inner history of our surrounding.”
Calling Hall a “child prodigy,” Harper said he is a “role model, a force in the community, a man of talent, intellect and character — a man of the hour.” Along with his singing talents, Hall is known for his accomplishments with Ahmad Hall & Friends. Formed by Hall in 2014, the group has earned several gospel music awards and was featured in a documentary highlighting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on BET.
“From early childhood — as early as the age of 3 — my mother noticed my music,” Hall told The Daily Tribune News in 2019. “She was a single parent. So when I became 5 years old she had to work overtime just to buy my first piano, which I still have today. From there, she enrolled me in piano lessons and the rest is history. Now I sing, play and teach professionally.
“… It just amazes me that as a child I dreamed of opportunities that I never imagined would become reality. Now I sit here and look at what God has allowed me to accomplish and I am overwhelmed. And now I look for every opportunity to allow others who are up and coming to display their God-given gift and talent.”
Admission to “The Sound of Africa” will be a $10 donation, which will help cover the cost of the program. For more information about the African-American History Initiative and to purchase tickets for the upcoming event, visit https://evhsonline.org.