New addition to MLK events is about bringing a diverse community together

01/13/2013 12:00 AM

01/14/2013 3:29 PM

The national holiday in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. is one week away, but the celebrations in honor of the slain civil rights leader start Thursday night with a concert at Coastal Carolina University right on through Monday with a parade in Myrtle Beach.

The Carolina African American Heritage Foundation has another weekend of events planned, including the addition of a competition, “Carolina Has Talent – “A Musical Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” 4-9 p.m. Saturday in the city’s Base Recreation Center.

The chairman of the Myrtle Beach foundation, Bennie Swans, couldn’t contain his excitement and impressions from the roughly 40 local and regional acts who entered for a chance to join the music extravaganza. He said two special guests will entertain for intermissions.

A KISS tribute group was referred by Jon Cupo, the new co-host of “The Drive” on WSEA-FM “Sports Radio” 100.3.

“They told me they dress and sound like KISS,” Swans said, also happy to welcome Banana Jack Murphy of WLSC-AM 1240 of Loris, “who will treat us to songs with his guitar.”

Question | How did this idea for an musical showcase come up? What better way to engage people of all ages than through music?

Answer | One of the most important legacies of Martin Luther King was to engage in your history through community, stories and songs. We’ve lifted another aspect from this, and we’re looking at song as being a bridge to the community affectionately with people.

Q. | How vast is the talent covering this affair?

A. | We are excited about this. We have so many talented young people, doing all kinds of music, whether they’re doing rap or country western or rhythm and blues or classical. Our young people deserve a venue where they can display their talent. ...

For 10 finalists, no matter what type of music ... or even a classical version on the xylophone ... these are talented young people, black and white and brown and yellow. It’s not about skin tone; it’s about the substantive nature of being human beings.

Q. | From how far were applications for this showcase made?

A. | We have entries from Mount Pleasant, Columbia and Marion, but the bulk did come from Horry and Georgetown counties. We’re saying to all people in Myrtle Beach: Come our and enjoy yourselves listening to these talented young people and the genres of music.

Q. | Adding this component to the celebration, how does this music sing its own note when it comes to awareness and gratitude?

A. | Music is the ultimate vehicle to the community, given the opportunities ... to bring young people together, and I cannot think of a better opportunity than bring this on Martin Luther King Day weekend.

Q. | So the competition will be some work for the judges to weigh?

A. | We’ll have a panel of judges, and they’ll take into consideration the audience reaction, so the judges and audience will help choose the winners. The most important thing is ... this is a community effort, and with the talent the young people bring us, it’s the glory, and everybody wins.

Q. | In what other ways has this whole process moved you?

A. | I’m not a judge, and I know very little about music, but what has impressed me most about this effort is ... it is just a marvelous collection of talent that goes across racial and economic boundaries, and that’s really the entire motivation. What it is all about is to build that kind of unity and have people work together. ... It is just so amazing, something so warming to my soul. ... You have to see it to believe it.

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