Join us at the Center to celebrate the release of Jake Xerxes Fussell’s debut solo album from local record label Paradise of Bachelors. Jake will perform some selections from his self-titled album, produced by and featuring William Tyler. Acclaimed Durham guitarist Daniel Bachman will also play a special solo set for the occasion. Now a Durham resident, Fussell grew up in Columbus, GA.
As Jake explains it, “the Southern half of the Georgia-Alabama border follows the Chattahoochee River, which cleaves Columbus from its decidedly less reputable neighbor, Phenix City, Alabama. Georgia’s second city is the hometown of ‘Mother of the Blues’ Ma Rainey and novelist Carson McCullers, but it was local hillbilly duo Darby and Tarlton’s 1927 hit ‘Columbus Stockade Blues’ that first immortalized Columbus in popular culture. Back in their day, if you ended up in lockup in Columbus, chances are you did your dirtiest deeds across the river.”
Jake is the son of Fred C. Fussell, a folklorist, curator, and photographer who hails from Phenix City. Fred’s fieldwork took him (sometimes with Jake) across the Southeast documenting traditional vernacular culture, which included recording blues and old-time musicians with fellow folklorists George Mitchell and Art Rosenbaum, as well as collaborating with American Indian artists, which eventually led to Jake’s graduate research on Choctaw fiddlers.
As a teenager, Jake played and studied under elder musicians in the Chattahoochee Valley, including Piedmont blues legend Precious Bryant (“Georgia Buck”) and Alabama bluesman George Daniel (“Rabbit on a Log”). He later accompanied Etta Baker in North Carolina, studied with Will Scarlett and Steve Mann in Berkeley, earned a degree in Southern Studies from Oxford (Mississippi), recorded and toured with Rev. John Wilkins, and, last year, met up with acclaimed artist William Tyler to begin recording his first solo album. The album drops on January 27th, and we can’t wait to hear it. You can listen to a single of “Raggy Levy” here.
This lecture is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Please join us at the Center as we unveil our Spring 2015 art exhibit, “Sacred Spaces: A Look Inside the Home of Harlem Renaissance Poet Anne Spencer.”
These photographs by John M. Hall reveal the beautiful and unique home and garden of Anne Spencer in Lynchburg, Virginia. The house, which is registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark, served as a salon and southern outpost of the Harlem Renaissance, as the Spencers hosted literary luminaries such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, and many others. Spencer also served as the first librarian at the all-black Dunbar High School from 1923-1945. During this period, she helped establish the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP, led a campaign to hire black teachers, and served on committees to improve the legal, social, and economic aspects of African Americans’ lives.
Anne Spencer’s biographer, Professor Emeritus J. Lee Greene, noted that while moving through her home, Spencer would often “recall a person, an incident, a memory, an object that… made the room seem sacred to her.” This exhibit celebrates the rich legacy of Anne Spencer, including her poetry, her activism, her family, and her home. In addition to a performance by local musicians from the Durham Symphony Orchestra, the reception will include remarks by Professor Greene, photographer John M. Hall, and Spencer’s granddaughter, Shaun Spencer-Hester, who currently serves as curator for the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum. North Carolina poet Jeffery Beam will read a small selection from Spencer’s work.
This event, which is co-sponsored by the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Join us at the Center for a lunchtime discussion with Chuck Reece. Together with three partners, Reece launched The Bitter Southerner, a weekly web magazine, in 2013 to tell the stories of a new(er) South. The editors have built a tremendous community around the magazine and its social media outlets, bringing together tens of thousands of readers and followers around the world. The Bitter Southerner‘s new approach to media has garnered the praise of many, including widely known journalists such as NPR’s Michelle Norris. The publication envisions “a South whose people are known for their creation, innovation, and forward thinking as much as they are known for their grace, hospitality, and conviviality.”
In his earlier life, Reece served as communications director to former Georgia Governor Zell Miller before moving into the world of corporate communications, serving as manager of global internal communications for The Coca-Cola Company. Reece returned to journalism because he believes that “the voices of the South’s smartest and most creative people are heard too faintly these days, and are too often discounted because of stereotypes in the dominant national media. Our goal is to raise those voices and, by so doing, to contribute to raising the fortunes of a changing South and its people.”
This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to Patrick Horn at email@example.com.