Taylor Williams as Stevie Wonder
Principle Merian Stewart opened the doors of Franklin Elementary to the Harambee Performing Arts Summer Program while it's building is being restored and the community showed up by the hundreds to not only show support but to be entertained by the children in the program as well. I knew it was going to be a good night when the crowd received a personal message from Motown legend Stevie Wonder.
Once again Bonita Bennett did an outstanding job arranging the performances of the kids, but she didn't do it alone. Candace Lacy, Pastor John DeCuir, Quanesha Moore, Moriah Holmes, Kyle Davis, Rashon Murph and a host of others who gave their time and experience to make this outstanding performance possible.
From Marvin Gaye to the Supremes, the kids covered Motown's greatest hits and artists. The show was very well put together and the kids got to learn about a genre of music that most of them weren't familiar with. The kids left no doubt in anyone's mind that attended that they know about Motown, who started it and why they were so great.
The revue portion of the show was hosted by Immanuel Shorter (Berry Gordy), who kept the crowd engaged and laughing along with Santiago Espinoza (Ed Sullivan). All of the kids did amazing jobs, but the standout was Taylor Williams as Stevie Wonder and she sang Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours like she grew up in the 70s. The kid got into Stevie character from the time she hit the stage until she exited.
From Gladys Knight & the Pips to the Jackson 5, these youngsters (and a few adults) gave it all they had. When you think about the fact that music outdated the kids by at least 40 years, it shows that the Motown sound is timeless and when it's placed in front of the youth, they react and respond to it in a positive way.
This summer's performance already has me looking forward to next summer's performance just to see what they will do. Bonita really has a way with the kids and she brings the best out of them. If your child has an interest in the performing arts, make sure to enroll them into Harambee.