Raising the Volume

With Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton

The Charleston Gaillard Center presents Raising the Volume, a conversation on music, race, art, activism, and community curated by Artists-in-Residence Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton. In Raising the Volume, Charleston’s Poet Laureate Amaker and Grammy Award winner Singleton explore issues through open, honest dialogue. The series begins with Amaker and Singleton examining their own experiences with racism as artists. Each subsequent conversation is led by either Amaker or Singleton having in-depth conversations with local Black leaders, educators, business owners, and artists.

Each video will also be accompanied by a lesson plan for both middle and high school students. The Gaillard Center’s on-staff educator will facilitate cross-school virtual meetings for students in different areas to discuss the content of the interviews. Lesson plans for Episodes I-XIII are available below.

Filmed and produced by the Charleston Gaillard Center, each of the 30-45 minute videos will be available on gaillardcenter.org, Facebook, and YouTube.

A conversation on music, racism, art, activism, and more with Marcus Amaker & Charlton Singleton.

A conversation on Charleston activism, past and present with former Municipal Court Judge for the City of Charleston for 33 years, Judge Arthur McFarland.

A conversation on awareness and action with the Executive Director of YWCA, LaVanda Brown.

A conversation on growing up in Charleston and life as a journalist and author with Herb Frazier. 

A conversation on arts management with Dr. Karen Chandler. 

A conversation on The Jazz Initiative and Jenkins Orphanage Band with Dr. Karen Chandler. 

A conversation on his life and the health of our Black community with Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell.

A conversation on entrepreneurship with Andrea Davis.

A conversation on finding your voice with Dr. Kylon Jerome Middleton.

Kellen Gray examines classical conducting.

A conversation on music and life with The War And Treaty.

Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton talk about music, joy, and memory.

Regina Duggins discusses her role as a mentor, teacher, and community leader.

Dr. Bernard Powers analyzes life and Black history.

Jirah Perkins explores art and being you.

Osei Chandler describes discovering your Kuumba. 

KJ Kearney highlights Black Food Fridays.


Marcus Amaker was named Charleston, SC’s first Poet Laureate in 2016. He’s also the award-winning graphic designer, an accomplished electronic musician, the creator of a poetry festival, and a mentor to hundreds of students. His poetry has been featured by PBS Newshour, SC Public Radio, Huffington Post, A&E Network, Charleston Magazine, and more. In 2019, he won a Governor’s Arts award. His poetry has been studied in classrooms across the country and has been interpreted for ballet, jazz, modern dance, opera and theater. Marcus has recorded three albums with Grammy Award winning drummer and producer Quentin E. Baxter. His latest book is The Birth of All Things (Free Verse Press)

MUSIC tapeloop.bandcamp.com
NEW BOOK, VINYL AND MORE newpoetrybook.com
WEBSITE marcusamaker.com

A native of Awendaw, SC, Charlton Singleton began his musical studies at the age of three on the piano. He would then go on to study the organ, violin, cello, and the trumpet throughout elementary, middle and high school. In 1994, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from South Carolina State University. Since that time, he has taught music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as being aadjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston. In 2008 he co-founded and became the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra; an 18 piece jazz ensemble of some of the finest professional musicians in the Southeast and the resident big band in Charleston, SC. Mr. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston, SC. In November of 2016 he was named the inaugural Artist in Residence at the recently renovated Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston. He remained in this position until July 2019; at that point he was named Artist in Residence Emeritus. In this position he continues to lead the Summer Youth Jazz Orchestra Camp as well as lead the “Jazz Through the Ages” assembly, which attracts a capacity crowd of students at the Gaillard Center.

As a performer, Charlton leads his own ensembles that vary in size and style. He has performed in France, Great Britain, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, The Netherlands, as well as many great cities throughout the United States. He is a founding member of a new ensemble called Ranky Tanky. The group is a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah from the Southeast Coast of the United States. In 2017 Ranky Tanky reached the top of the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon Contemporary Jazz charts with their self-titled debut recording. In 2019 they accomplished the same feat with the release of their sophomore effort, “Good Time”, which recently won the 2020 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Roots Music Album”.

In addition to performing, he is in demand as a speaker, clinician, composer, and arranger. He has also shared the stage with and/or worked with some of most talented entertainers in the world, including Bobby McFerrin, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Houston Person, Darius Rucker, Fred Wesley, and Cyrus Chestnut to name a few. Outside of music and entertainment, he and his wife, MaryJo, are the proud parents of Shalamar and D’Marcus, as well as their pets…Sassy, Jango, Mojo, Kota Bear, Pumpkin, and Ginger.

WEBSITE charltonsingleton.com
INSTAGRAM @csmusician
FACEBOOK @charltonpsingleton


Judge Arthur McFarland
Municipal Court Judge for the City of Charleston for 33 years

JUDGE ARTHUR C. MCFARLAND is a native of Charleston’s Eastside community.  He is the seventh of child of the late Thomasina Jenkins McFarland and Joe McFarland.  His mother encouraged all her children to become community activist like her and his oldest brother Joe McFarland.  He attended Immaculate Conception grade and high school.  As a teenager, he participated in the 1963 civil rights sit-ins and demonstrations in Charleston and attended the March on Washington.  In 1964, he was one of nine African American students to desegregate Bishop England High School.   Upon graduation from Bishop England, he entered the University of Notre Dame where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government.  At Notre Dame, he became the first president of the Afro-American Society.  In 1973, he received his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Virginia Law School.  Following graduation from Virginia, he worked as an Earl Warren Fellow with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York receiving training in civil rights litigation.  In 1974, he opened his law practice in Charleston.  He is admitted to practice before the State, Federal and U.S. Supreme Courts.

In 1976, Judge McFarland was appointed Associate Judge of the Charleston Municipal Court. In 1978, he was appointed Chief Municipal Judge and held that post until his retirement in 2009.  During the past 46 years, he has been a practicing attorney in Charleston handling school desegregation and employment rights as well as heirs’ property and other civil cases. 

In addition to his professional work, Judge McFarland has held positions in numerous local and national organizations.  He has just completed service as co-President of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) which is comprised of 35 congregations and organization in the Charleston area engaged in social justice work.  For six years he served as Supreme Knight and CEO of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc., the largest African American Catholic lay organization in the nation, overseeing over 1000 units in 32 states, the District of Columbia and Colombia, South America.  He serves as National President of the Gadsden Family Reunion (his mother’s side of the family).  He previously served on the boards of the MUSC Foundation, Daniel Joseph Jenkins Institute for Children, and the College of Charleston Foundation; President of several organizations including the the Charleston Business and Professional Association, Charleston County Human Services Commission (now Palmetto CAP), Robert Shaw Boys and Girls Club and Gamma Lambda Boule-Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.

Judge McFarland is listed in the Who’s Who in Black America.  He has been featured in the Congressional Record and Ebony and has been referenced in numerous articles and books.He has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, South Carolina ETV and numerous radio and television programs, locally and in other StatesHehas been a frequent speaker at churches, schools, legal and civic gatherings.  He has received numerous awards and honors for his community service, locally and nationally.  In 2007, he was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame. 

Judge McFarland is married to Dr. Elise Davis-McFarland.  They have two children, Kira J. McFarland and William J. McFarland and two grandchildren, William J. McFarland, Jr. and Lara Elise McFarland.  He is an active member of St. Patrick Catholic Church.

LaVanda Brown
Executive Director of YWCA

LaVanda Brown joined YWCA Greater Charleston as executive director in February 2016, bringing more than 20 years of experience, leadership, and a passion for serving to the organization.
During her decades of on-the-ground experience in social services focused on underserved populations, she has led and advised multiple nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Family Promise of Greater Savannah, Union Mission, Greenbriar Children’s Center, Gang Alternatives of Miami, Clarke Community Services in New Orleans, and others in the behavioral health, employment, and community services arenas. 
A passionate advocate for causes including gender equality, diversity, and racial equity, and a strong ally of under-resourced teens and homeless populations, she envisions a world where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated. “The mission of the YWCA is one that is very much in line with my personal mission of empowering women and celebrating differences,” she says.
During her career, LaVanda has developed strategic plans resulting in more positive community interventions, created a homeless case management system, developed a life skills curriculum, designed an after-care program to help the homeless transition to independence, and instituted permanent supportive housing for homeless adults and families. 
Her work has garnered awards including the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Best Practices Award for Transitional Housing and Case Management, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Magnolia Award for Excellence in Housing. She was also the 2018 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Picture Award for outstanding community service, presented by Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and South Carolina Rep. Wendell Gilliard.
LaVanda currently also serves as the housing subcommittee chair for the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing, and serves on the board of Enough Pie, an organization dedicated to improving Charleston’s upper peninsula.   
She holds a dual bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in counseling from Georgia Southern University.

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell
Founder of Closing the Gap in Healthcare

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell is a practicing Family Practice Physician in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine and the Founder of Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc. (CGHC), a non-profit organization created to decrease health disparities by providing health education for African Americans and other under-served populations.

Closing the Gap in Health Care radio health tips, as well as the website, has received National Awards from the National Health Foundation as one the best programs of its kind in the country in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Dr. Bell is a 2013 recipient of the National Medical Association Distinguished Service Award, Toronto, Canada.

On November 11, 2013, he was inducted into the Richland One Hall of Fame for contributions made to Richland One, his community, profession, and society as a whole, by the Richland One Board of School Commissioners.

Dr. Bell writes a weekly newsletter that is received by 1500 readers online primarily in North and South Carolina. The newsletter is read by the lay public as well as physicians. He speaks at his Church (Olive Branch AME Church) each Sunday AM that he is in town, giving a short health tip to the congregation. He has been a frequent speaker to statewide AME Church conferences at the request of the Bishop of the AME Church. He is the recipient of the prestigious Richard Allen Award given by Allen University in 2005 for outstanding contributions in medicine.   

Through CGHC, Dr. Bell presents radio health tips that are aired in the Tricounty area, other parts of the Lowcountry and in the Columbia, SC radio markets (most recently television health tips are also being aired). He also does a monthly radio show with Gary Posik (WGCV 95) in Columbia, SC for the past five years. The health information provided through the radio health tips and the CGHC website reaches over 300,000 people each week. The television program reaches about 12,000 people per day in the Charleston area. In May 2005, Closing the Gap in Health Care was the recipient of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Service Award for Outstanding Contributions in Public Health.

Dr. Bell is the co-founder of the award-winning Closing the Gap in Health Fitness Festival for Children and Youth, an annual event that promotes life fitness for youth in the Charleston area. The program was the recipient of the Governor’s Award for outstanding contributions to the community.

Dr. Bell was the Chairman of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness under three different governors, during which time fitness and health was elevated to a new level in South Carolina. (Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was the Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness).    

Also in 2007, Dr. Bell was a Physician Finalist for Health Care Heroes through the Charleston Regional Business Journal and in 2008. He received the Wanamaker Award given by the Charleston County Medical Society. In April of 2012, Dr. Bell received the James Clyburn Health Literacy Award in Public Health Communication and Community Service. CTCIHC has received numerous awards from sororities and fraternities for outstanding contributions to the African American Communities in Public Health (Health Literacy). In March 2013, Dr. Bell received the Humanitarian Award from the city of Summerville, South Carolina.

Recently, Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc. received a major two-year grant from the Medical University of South Carolina to collaborate at looking at the effectiveness of radio health tips in the Tricounty area.      

Dr. Bell is currently in private practice in family medicine Charleston, SC. He retired from MUSC in 2010 after serving as Director of University Diversity and Associate Dean for Diversity in the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, and a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at MUSC. While serving as director of the office of diversity, Dr. Bell authored and helped initiate diversity plans to increase the number of African American programs in all six colleges at MUSC.

Dr Bell was invited to be the second only African American to be an Assistant Dean of Minority Students at MUSC by Dr. Layton McCurdy, the Dean of the College of Medicine and Vice President of Clinical Affairs at MUSC. At the recommendation of Dr. McCurdy, Dr. Bell was recommended to Dr. Jim Edwards, President of the University at that time, to serve as interim director of the Office of Minority Affairs.  After three months, Dr. Bell was named the director of the office, which he promptly changed the name to the Office of Diversity. He was elevated to Associate Dean of Minority Affairs in the College of Medicine and was the author of many programs to improve the recruitment, retention, and graduation of minority students at MUSC.  He was a member of the admission committee as well as the progress committee for the College of Medicine. While he was Associate Dean of Medicine and Director of the Office of Diversity, the university experienced a significant improvement in the number of African Americans in all six colleges at MUSC.      

He is the founder of the annual very prestigious Earl B. Higgins Diversity Award given in honor of Dr. Earl Higgins to the person at MUSC who has done the most for promoting diversity. The award continues to be given at MUSC. He was also the founder of the Earl B. Higgins Scholarship given to minority students in need of financial support in all six colleges at MUSC. He was the founder of the HBCU Collaboration Program with MUSC to help increase the number of African American students from HBCU colleges and universities in South Carolina into MUSC (College of Medicine).            

He was named Physician of the Year in 1996 by the South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians (the first African American Physician given this honor). He was named to the South Carolina Bell South Calendar for Outstanding African Americans, the first South Carolina State College calendar for outstanding graduates, and in 1992, he was recognized as an outstanding graduate from MUSC.  In 1993, Dr. Bell was selected as outstanding graduate of South Carolina State College for contributions made to medicine, track and field, and the military.

Dr. Bell received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Charleston Southern University in 2003 for outstanding service to the university and the community.   

Dr. Bell was a Major in the US Air Force Reserve from 1983 to 1993. He is a graduate of the US School of Aero Space Medicine and was a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force Reserve. He served in Operation Desert Storm after which he retired.  

In April 2007, Dr. Bell was honored by Select Health Insurance Inc. with an endowed scholarship named in his honor at the Coastal Community Foundation of Charleston, South Carolina. The scholarship will provide support for African American students attending MUSC in all six colleges. Dr. Bell started the annual Low Country Jazz Festival, which is in its fifth year and has been recognized as one of the best Jazz Festivals in the Southeast. The festival is sponsored by Closing the Gap In Health Care INC for the purpose of raising funds to support the radio and television programs as well as the endowed scholarship at the community foundation. We have reached our goal of $250,000.

The Thaddeus J. Bell Scholarship has been endowed for $250,000 for African American students at MUSC in all colleges in good standing with their prospective college. He is a frequent lecturer on health disparities for MUSC, local radio, and television. He has been featured in several newspaper articles in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville, South Carolina. He is a frequent speaker at the annual Greenville Health Disparity Conference and recently wrote an Op Ed on Obesity in the African American Community that appeared in the Greenville Newspaper. He is the recipient of the Golden Pen Award from the Post and Courier for a letter he wrote to the editor regarding the Apology of the American Association to African American Physicians for 100 years of Discrimination in 2008.          

Dr. Bell is a well-respected lecturer on health disparities and is a frequently requested speaker throughout the South for both physicians and public groups. His Barbershop and Beauty Shop talks have been well received throughout South and North Carolina. The talks have been credited with saving the lives of many African American Men and Women. These lectures are given through Churches, civic and social groups. They are free to the public. Dr. Bell is currently the Chairman of the Health Initiative Committee of the Sixth District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and has been recognized locally and regionally for outstanding contributions to the health literacy of African American Men in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He is the 2011 recipient of the Citizen of the Year award given by the Mighty Sixth District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.   

Dr. Bell was inducted into the Columbia Housing Authority Wall of Fame in 1989 as an outstanding physician who was raised in the projects (Allen Benedict Court) of Columbia, South Carolina.    

In 1980, Dr. Bell founded the Cross Family Health Center in Cross, SC, which was a free clinic for the underserved people in Cross, South Carolina, which is now a federal health center for the underserved population and is a major part of the Franklin C. Health Clinic Network in Charleston, South Carolina. He worked at that center for 10 years as the only physician in the rural community of Cross, South Carolina.

He has expertise in fitness and health and often lectures on these subjects as well. Dr. Bell is a former World-Class sprinter in Master Track and Field. He won the title of World Champion in 1987 and 1989 in the 100m sprint. He has also been a two-time World Medical Games Champion in the 100m and 400m dashes. He has been on two master world champion sprint relay teams (1996 and 2001) at the Masters World Games. He has been a gold medal winner at the Penn Relays and has been guest physician at the relays. He has been invited to participate in famous Modesto Relays where he won the 100 and 200m dash for Masters Athletes (1988). Dr. Bell holds all of the South Carolina Records in the sprint events (100m and 200m dash) in Master Track and Field for South Carolina.

He has been a guest physician at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. He has been a physician for USA Track Field for a world championship. He was a physician for the Olympic Festival for USA Track and Field in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1990s.

The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina selected Dr. Bell as one of the best athletes of the 20th Century in track and field for the State of South Carolina.

Dr. Bell is a life member of the Alumni Association of the Medical University of South Carolina, Life Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Life Member of the South Carolina State College Alumni Association, a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the National Medical Association, the Charleston County Medical Association (currently Co Chairman of the Health Disparity Committee). In February of 2012, the Charleston County Medical Association gave a $1500 scholarship to an African American student in the College of Medicine at MUSC in honor of Dr. Thaddeus John Bell.    

Dr. Bell is a graduate of CA Johnson High School (1962) Columbia, South Carolina, South Carolina State University (BS) 1966, Clark Atlanta University 1970 (Masters in Science Education), Medical University of South Carolina (1976) MD, School of Aero Space Medicine (Flight Surgeon)1983, and is currently a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine.      

Dr. Bell is the father of 3 children Thaddeus J. Bell, II (deceased), Tiffany Bell, and Tonisha Bell-Alston.  He is the proud grandfather of a granddaughter, Julia Alston,  grandsons, Kaidyn Snipe and Edmond James Alston.

WEBSITE closingthegapinhealthcare.org
FACEBOOK @ctgihc
TWITTER @ClosingtheGap4u

Dr. Karen Chandler
Director of the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management at the College of Charleston

Since 1999, Karen Chandler has taught arts management in the College of Charleston’s undergraduate and graduate certificate programs and served as director of the undergraduate program from 2014-2019.  She is currently the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Arts and Cultural Management.  Prior to her College of Charleston appointments, she served as Assistant Professor of Arts Management at American University.

Chandler received her Ph.D. in Studies in Arts and Humanities (New York University), M.A. in Music Education (Columbia University-Teachers College), and B.S. in Music Education (Hampton University). 

Chandler has directed arts and cultural programs at the African American Cultural Center (University of Virginia), Avery Research Center (College of Charleston), and is the co-founder/principal of the Charleston Jazz Initiative. With a National Endowment for the Arts grant, she served as Executive Producer of LEGENDS (2010), a CD with a 22-piece big band of songs by musicians the initiative is studying.

Dr. Chandler’s publications include “Bin Yah (Been Here): Africanisms and Jazz Influences in Gullah Culture” in Jazz @ 100: An Alternative to a Story of Heroes (Frankfurt: Wolke Verlag); “Prelude to Gershwin: Edmund Thornton Jenkins” for a Porgy and Bess anthology; “When Charity and Jazz Meet” (Spoleto Festival USA); Curtain Up on the Friends: A History of the Friends of the Kennedy Center Volunteer Program; and several articles in the Theatre Management Journal, The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society and JAZZed Magazine.

Chandler serves on a variety of boards including the City of Charleston’s Commission on the Arts, an appointment by the Mayor of Charleston, Association of Arts Administration Educators, Charleston Gaillard Center, and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. Among her awards are a Testimonial Resolution by the City of Detroit (MI) City Council for her research on Motown bassist James Jamerson, Faculty of the Year ExCEL Award (College of Charleston), and the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities, the state’s highest award in the humanities given to an individual.  Chandler has also been recognized on the South Carolina Arts Commission’s “Forty Lists Project” as an Outstanding Arts Administrator.

Andrea Davis
Founder and Owner of Motherland Essentials

Andrea Davis always felt that everyone should have access to the products that are considered better for us, but unfortunately items labeled as “natural” or “organic” aren’t typically affordable to many. As a young wife and mother, she understands the importance of maintaining a budget. She initially started making handcrafted soaps as a way to provide more natural options to her own family and friends, and again considered the fact that cost keeps so many people away from healthy, quality products.

Motherland Essentials is an extension of her nurturing spirit to each of you.

Her ultimate goal is to foster an appreciation of all things natural and provide an opportunity to fall in love with natural skin care as much as she has. Everyone should have the ability to exercise the right to place quality over price, and Motherland Essentials is working toward achieving this goal one product at a time.
WEBSITE motherlandessentials.com
FACEBOOK @motherlandessentials
INSTAGRAM @motherlandessentials

Photo by Aneris Photography

Herb Frazier
Charleston-based Author

Herb Frazier is a Charleston, South Carolina-based writer. He’s the former marketing director at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. Before he joined Magnolia, Herb edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier.

In 1990, the South Carolina Press Association named him Journalist of the Year. He has taught news writing as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan.

After leaving daily journalism in 2006, Herb led journalism workshops in Sierra Leone, Zambia, Ghana, Suriname, Guyana and The Gambia for the U.S. government and a Washington-based journalism foundation.

His international reporting experience includes West Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia and Rwanda during its post-genocide. He also reported on the conflict in Sierra Leone. Herb has written about the historical and cultural ties between West Africa and the Gullah Geechee people of coastal South Carolina and Georgia.

He is the author of “Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories.” He is a co-author of “We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel” with Marjory Wentworth and Dr. Bernard Powers Jr. Herb’s forthcoming book, “Crossing the Sea on a Sacred Song,” is the story of an African funeral song that links a woman in Georgia with a woman in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Kylon Jerome Middleton
Senior Pastor at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church

Kylon Middleton was born and reared in Charleston, South Carolina and educated in the public school system in Charleston County. Kylon graduated from Burke High School and matriculated to the College of Charleston, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications. He has received graduate and advanced degrees from the following institutions: Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary – Columbia, South Carolina; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Duke University – Durham, North Carolina.
He served as a high school English teacher, an assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator in the public school systems in South and North Carolinas.

Kylon has successfully served as a Pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church for over 25 years. He is currently the proud Pastor of Historic Mount Zion AME Church on Glebe Street, where he is leading the congregation in a multi-million restoration and expansion project and breathing new life into the congregation with a focus on racial healing, reconciliation, and transformation.

Kylon is extremely active in the Greater Charleston community. He led the City of Charleston’s Illumination Project. He is the YWCA Tri-County MLK Ecumenical Chairperson, Charleston 350th Community Outreach and Service Committee Chairperson, a member of the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, member of Coastal Community Foundation G&L Committee, Charleston Forum Board of Directors, Chapter President-Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., WM-Boaz Lodge No. 309 F&AM PHA, member of Progressive Chapter No. 310 OES, a member of the Robert B. Elliott Holy Royal Arch Masons, and a member of the George Washington Carver Consistory No. 162. Most recently, Kylon was elected to Charleston County Council, representing District 6.

Kylon has one son, Kylon Joshua Middleton, a graduate student at East Carolina University.

Kellen Gray
Assistant Conductor at the Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Kellen Gray has earned a reputation as a versatile and imaginative conductor through his enthusiasm for traditional, experimental, and integrative multimedia art programs. Presently, he serves as Assistant Conductor at the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

Before his Charleston appointment, Kellen was a Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellow, and later, Assistant Conductor at Chicago Sinfonietta, under Music Director, Mei-Ann Chen. Before leaving Chicago, Kellen made his Chicago Symphony Center debut, which Chicago’s Picture This Post described him as having, “…laser-like focus that allowed the entire orchestra to seem to become one organism.” The Classical Voice of North Carolina referred to Kellen’s gestures as “… so smooth and polished they’re almost choreography.”

From 2014-16, Kellen was Assistant Conductor at the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra under Music Director, Howard Hsu; and one of eight Conducting Fellows selected to study at Eastern Music Festival, under Gerard Schwarz, Grant Cooper, and Jose-Luis Novo.

At the 2018 League of American Orchestras conference, Kellen was a discussion panelist on the value of leadership pipelines in classical music based on diversity, inclusion, and equity. At a 2017 festival celebrating the 100th birthday of Georgia-born author, Carson McCullers, he was awarded the honor of guest-conducting a collaboration of the music of David Diamond and the premiere of Karen Allen’s debut film, “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud.”

Kellen’s recent and upcoming conducting endeavors include the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Charlotte Ballet, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Philharmonic, Northwest Florida Symphony, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

WEBSITE kellengray.com
INSTAGRAM @kellengrayconductor

Regina Duggins
Founder of Charleston Black Pride

As the youngest of 6 children, Regina Duggins hails from the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, NY. In 2010, Regina moved to Charleston, SC in search of an opportunity for change. Born to Rosemary Duggins and the late Sampson Haynes Sr. (murdered when Regina was age 3); her parents hail from St. George, SC. On April 30, 1977, Regina was born. Regina began her love and passion for helping youth at the age of 12 due to being a two-time survivor of childhood sexual abuse. While attending her NYC Public school Regina started in her living room; her first Hip Hop & Reggae dance group called “New York Styles” which throughout her teen years was her most prized possession. Regina graduated 6 months early from high school in her senior year. Regina then went onto receiving her undergraduate degree – An associate’s in Child Studies and a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Program Administration/Early Childhood Education from Cazenovia College in NY. Her Masters of Science Degree in Special Education and a Doctoral Degree in Program Administration with an emphasis in K-12 learning. Currently, Regina is a CCSD Reading Interventionist employee working closely with the Special Education Dept of Military Magnet Academy. Regina is also a District 20 Constituent School Board member. She is also the founder of a girl’s mentoring program called “Black Magic Girls” as well as the founder of Charleston Black Pride (LGBTQ organization for people of color), former League of Women’s Education Director, Graduate of Charleston Rise Cohort 2 parent advocacy group, self-published author/poet of two poetry books entitled “Black Magic” & “Black Coffee; No Sugar, No Cream!” and a fiction book entitled, “New York Styles, What Time Is It?” Regina has performed in several local events including plays and poetry readings for the MOJA arts festival. Regina is the 2019 award recipient of the Spotlight awards for servant leader in honor of the Emanuel 9 “Ethel Lance Award.” As well as the 2019 ACHI magazine award winner for “Volunteer of the Year.” The winner of the 2020 Harvey-Whitlock-Benett Women’s History Month Missionary Service award. Regina is the loving mother/aunt of 5 of her nieces & nephews: Regina Jr., Sampson, Daquin, Latavia, & Lyasia as well as the grandmother of her precious princess “Joy.” Regina’s favorite quote amongst several is “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!” by Fannie Lou Hamer as well as the belief that she is “the voice of those who feel voiceless.”

BOOK New York Styles, “What Time Is It?” $18
BOOK Black Magic $13
BOOK Black Coffee; No Sugar, No Cream $15

*Autographed copies: Cashapp $reginaduggins77 or PayPal reginaduggins77 & $5.00 shipping fee

WEBSITE charlestonblackpride.org
FACEBOOK @gina.mocha

Dr. Bernard E Powers
Founding director of the College of Charleston’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston

BERNARD E. POWERS JR. earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American history at Northwestern University and in 2018 retired as professor emeritus of history from the College of Charleston after twenty-six years. Currently Powers is the founding director of the College of Charleston’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston.  He has presented papers on various aspects of African American history at conferences and reviewed books and manuscripts for journals and presses. His work appears in book chapters and in scholarly and popular periodicals.  He edited the 1999 Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Black History Month Kit entitled “The Legacy of African American Leadership for the Present and the Future.”  His article “Community Evolution and Race Relations in Reconstruction Charleston, S.C.” was included in the Century of Excellence Centennial Volume 1900-2000 of The South Carolina Historical Magazine (July,2000). A recent book chapter is “Churches as Places of History: The Case of Nineteenth Century Charleston, South Carolina,” in Interpreting African American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites (2015). Powers is the author of Black Charlestonians:  A Social History 1822-1885, (1994) a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book for 1995. He was an associate editor of the Encyclopedia of South Carolina (2006). He co-authored We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel (2016) which contextualizes the city’s 2015 racially motivated murders. Most recently he has edited 101 African Americans that Shaped South Carolina (2020) published by the University of South Carolina Press. His current research examines African Methodism in South Carolina. Bernard Powers has appeared in documentary films, including the PBS production, “African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” and “Emanuel: The Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting.” Powers has been extensively involved in public history and has served as a consultant for historic sites.   He is the founding past president of the Charleston Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.   He was also president of   the South Carolina Historical Association and of the Advisory Board of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. He is an emeritus trustee of the Historic Charleston Foundation and a former member of the City of Charleston Tourism Commission. Powers has also served as the interim president of Charleston’s International African American Museum (IAAM).

In 2019 the Association for the Study of African American Life and History recognized Powers’ lifetime commitment to “research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history” with the Carter Godwin Woodson Scholars Medallion.

Bernard Powers is a member of Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston, where he also serves on the Board of Stewards.  He is married to Lorraine O. Powers who is a retired school administrator.

Jirah Perkins
Multidisciplinary Artist

Jirah Perkins is a multidisciplinary artist based out of Charleston, South Carolina. She has been creating ever since she was a child.  Art has always been her favorite way of expressing her creative voice and has stood as a tool of therapy. She experiments through different mediums and styles with a focus on women empowerment. Jirah incorporates her photography references, bold colors and textures and even poetry to create a sensory experience through her work.

Her most recent collection, “Miss Mary Mack”, focuses on the representational meaning of childhood handgames. This collection involves the use of abstract and realistic subjects to depict the flair and unadulterated joy of black-girl hood.
WEBSITE ujorii.com
FACEBOOK @Ujorlifineart

Photo Credit Herb Frazier

Osei Terry Chandler
Producer and Host of Roots Musik Karmau for South Carolina Public Radio

Osei Terry Chandler is the widowed father of three adult offspring. A retired educator, he was the Director of the Educational Opportunity Center at Trident Technical College.

Osei continues to voluntarily produce and host the Roots Musik Karmau for South Carolina Public Radio. This Caribbean oriented music program has been broadcasting since April, 1979… almost 40 years. Chandler was recently inducted into the Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame.

Chandler’s voice can be heard on the “Weekend Jazz” segment of the widely syndicated “Jazz Works” programs.

Because of his various involvements and committments Osei has been called a “community activist”. Osei’s family, (along with four or five other families), was among the first to practice Kwanzaa publically in Charleston in 1978.  He co – founded the still active Ebony City Soccer Club – “The Li’l Peles”; he is co- founder of the Charleston Remembrance Program (an annual commemoration to the African  ancestors who perished during the Middle Passage); Osei has served as Presidentof the Avery Institute of Afro-American History & Culture and as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Avery Research Center.

Chandler has hosted a good number of concerts; he has facilitated and pasrticipated in a variety of presentations and panels relative to the enlightenment and upliftment of his family and his community.

Osei Terry Chandler holds a bachelor of Arts degree form MacMurray Colleg and Master’s Degree from Webster University.

KJ Kearney
Founder of Black Food Fridays

The founder of @BlackFoodFridays, KJ Kearney, created this initiative to encourage people to support Black owned food and beverage businesses each and every Friday. Started in April of 2020, at the beginning of the global pandemic, the original goal was to highlight Black owned restaurants that were open during COVID-19. It has since evolved into an aggregate landing page for people, all over the world, who are being intentional about spending with Black owned food-based businesses.

KJ is also the creator of the TikTok video series entitled #BlackFoodFact. His 60 second Black food history lessons were featured on the Today Show for making “Black Food History More Accessible.” The Black Food Fridays message has been shared in local, national, and international publications such as: The Charleston City Paper, The Post & Courier, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller UK, Mic.com, The Takeout, NBCBLK, Twisted UK, and the aforementioned Today Show.

WEBSITE blackfoodfridays.com
INSTAGRAM @blackfoodfridays
TIKTOK @blackfoodfridays