Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
I arrived at the Faith Ministries Church a few minutes early. I have been attending gospel concerts for over 30 years in the Columbus, Ohio area. This was my first time attending a Raise Productions concert. It seems odd because the choir has been in existence for about 33 years.
Sidebar: The excitement and the fun the group members were having during this song was contagious. I almost forgot that I was there to take pictures…
Sidebar: During the early part of the concert, I concentrated on making sure I stayed out of the video team members way and taking pictures. I started really listening to the choir on a cappella song, “Were you there”. The harmony was amazing!
Sidebar: A few of the lyrics of this song are “He could have chose another way to show he loved us, He could have chose another way to show He cared, yet he chose to die on Calvary. Just to think that he did it all for me”. I could have listened to this song for about 15 minutes more. Enough said.
Raise Productions has been around for a while. Tell me what is going on.
We started in 1985. It has been 34 years since Raise has been in existence. We are still moving. Initially, we started with the school and teaching private lessons in a house on 22nd Street. Then, we moved to the King Arts Complex and were there several years. Then, we moved to our own facility on Cleveland Ave. We taught classes in the arts. We had a vision to develop an accredited program. We had 5 or 6 teachers at that point. Most of the teachers went back to school to start getting their master’s Degree or additional degrees to be able to teach. I went back to school and got my Master’s and doctorate and started teaching at Ohio State, and at Dennison and now I’m teaching at Indiana University. We still have the publishing company. It still provides music for choirs and people all over the world. Brother Frank Lane runs Raise in Columbus. I promote Raise from Indiana and all over the world. The choir is still together and still sings. The choir is 33 years old and still has some of the original members.
A Raise Resurrection is an Easter concert which celebrates the story of Christ from Palm Sunday through the resurrection with anthems, spirituals, gospel songs, narratives, scriptures etc.
We don’t sing as often because I am all over the place. When we come together, it is always a blessed time. It is a reminder of how pleasant it is for brethren to come together in unity, to sing and experience the power of God.
Any projects coming soon?
We have been working on a project for a little while. We just haven’t been able to get it finished. The project is called, “Still Raising Gospel Music Higher.” On our first concert and album over 30 years ago we had a song called “Raising Gospel Music Higher”. That was our motto for Raise. We have beautiful music that the Lord has given us. We are just waiting to get it out.
Do you write most of the songs the group performs? Toot your own horn for a minute.
I have been composing since I was 9. I have written over 600 compositions. With Raise choir, I write all the music. That is primarily because the Lord has gifted me as a composer. They are a group that we developed to be able to share the music that God gave to me.
Tell me more about the progression of Raise.
We started teaching lessons in a house, but always had a vision to have an accredited school. Having come through traditional classical training in undergraduate school, I realized that gospel music did not mix with classical music and it was not welcome in the academy. That burned in me a vision that people need to learn how to do gospel music in an academic setting and not be made to feel that gospel music is inferior. When we started the community arts school, we were trying to develop the courses and curriculum to teach people to do what we do in African American churches through gospel music. We were blessed to do that, then the Lord called us to a higher platform where He gave us the arena. We were able to take our programming into academic settings and now we literally teach in college and universities all over the world. A lot of choirs perform this music all over the world. If you search for Raymond Wise on www.youtube.com, there are over 400 pieces posted. Not even one did I post. There are choirs from all over the world performing this music. The Lord is blessing this ministry to be a worldwide ministry in terms of the curriculum, music, products and sheet music.
What should I have asked that I didn’t ask that you are dying to tell me?
We are blessed to have been here for this many years, the longevity that the Lord has given us but there is still more. While we are expanding, the Lord is opening new doors in other arenas. There is still that vision to be able to train and help musicians in non-academic as well as church settings to learn how to do this music in a wonderful way. We still have a vision that one day there will be a center for the gospel arts where people can come from all over the world to do this music.
How do we contact you?
All our products and contact information are on www.raiseonline.com. We don’t sing as often, but we still do sing. If people want us to do specific things, we just need to know in advance. We do clinics, workshops, etc.
How long have you been a member and why do you participate?
I have been a member since I was 19 years old. It has impacted my life by helping to enlighten me to pray for people and lay my hands-on people while I am giving them a massage. I am a professional massage therapist. It has taken me out of a dark place in my life. About 30 years ago, I considered committing suicide. The music and the words to the music lifted me up from that dark place and encouraged me to go forward.
The group is unique in that we sing 6-part harmony. By that I mean first soprano, second soprano, first alto, second alto, first tenor, second tenor, and bass. Usually you don’t find that in groups from Columbus Ohio. You get soprano, alto, tenor. Half of the tenors are baritones and they are screaming their part. Screaming impacts your voices.
We also sing in different languages. We sing in German which is wild to me. It is a gift that Raymond has given us to be able to interpret gospel music in German.
Years ago, we had the opportunity to sing at a Jewish synagogue with a choir from Renalt Israel. They had a piece of our music, we had a piece of their music. When we came together as family, it was phenomenal. We were so much on one accord that both groups wore royal blue without planning it. We have been exposed to many arenas that most African American choirs do not get the opportunity to be exposed to.
Why do you sing in Raise?
The impact of his music. His music is all scripturally based. I love the arrangements of his music. You don’t find his music being played over and over on the radio. It is a totally different style. One person said they don’t know whether to clap or sit and listen.
The group exposes my vocal range.
Are you trying to tell me you can “blow”?
I won’t say that. Someone else might say that, but I won’t.
What part do you sing?
Second soprano. My vocal range has changed. I used to sing first soprano.
If you are singing with Dr. Raymond Wise , we know you are hitting the correct notes.
His second soprano is most choirs first soprano range. Raymond writes very high, but he gives you the training and breathing techniques, etc. We warm up properly all the time before we sing. We don’t stress that in the black choirs. We just sung 10 songs and I am not hoarse. In other choirs, I would have been hoarse by the fourth song. With this group he demands excellence and unity, the musicians are not out playing one another, The musicians want to hear what we are singing.
My take: I completed the group piano lessons offered at the school in the mid-1990s. I knew Dr. Raymond Wise was a talented musician and singer prior to attending the concert. I didn’t know what to expect. This concert told the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scriptures were not only read by narrators but displayed visually on screens in the front of the sanctuary. A few of the members gave their testimony of how the group and/or songs has impacted their lives over the years. This was a concert that was more than singing and playing instruments in excellence. It was ministry in excellence. “Just to think that He did it all for me” …. Enough said.
Multi Media Studio
(lower level of Columbus Hall)
Columbus State Community College
291 Jefferson Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
I arrived a few minutes early planning to support an event my friend, since the fifth grade, was hosting. Light refreshments were provided. There were over twenty presenters (I think the final count was 24 and Dr. Clark made 25).
Here are a few of my favorite presenters from the event:
The poem was too long to include in this blog. My starting paying attention when I heard this excerpt from Countee Cullen’s “Heritage”:
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
So I make an idle boast;
Jesus of the twice-turned cheek,
Lamb of God, although I speak
Sidebar: I love the community this group modeled.
Pat Parker’s, “For the white person who wants to know how to be my friend”
The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.
Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.
You should be able to dig Aretha,
but don’t play her every time i come over.
And if you decide to play Beethoven – don’t tell me
his life story. They made us take music appreciation too.
Eat soul food if you like it,
but don’t expect me to locate your restaurants
or cook it for you.
And if some Black person insults you,
mugs you, rapes your sister, rapes you,
rips your house, or is just being an ass –
please, do not apologize to me
for wanting to do them bodily harm.
It makes me wonder if you’re foolish.
And even if you really believe Blacks are better lovers than
whites – don’t tell me. I start thinking of charging stud fees.
In other words – if you really want to be my friend – don’t
make a labor of it. I’m lazy. Remember.
Sidebar: I had to give her “dap” (a fist bump) after this reading. Enough said.
Assotto Saint’s, “Heart and Soul”,
every time i leave my house
everywhere i go
i pin on my knapsack
twin petal-small flags
to which my allegiance is pledged
these flags are not monkeys on my back
i carry them as a coat of arms
mantles of double brotherhood
they shield like second skin
to drape my dreams
one floats rainbow
the other wings tricolor
both bold with movement
i am not ashamed
of what they stand for
when their meaning is
these flags are not chips on my shoulders
i carry them as beauty spots
markings of double brotherhood
they shine like mirror beads
to reflect prejudice
one unfurls the future of the queer nation
the other salutes african ancestors
both wave s.o.s. signals
i am not afraid
to stand my ground
when their beauty is
these flags are not crossbones on my life
i carry them as amulets
emblems of double brotherhood
they spellbind like stars
to stripe america
that becomes me in tribal rituals
& battle against bigots
i have honored with my blood
everywhere i go
every time i leave my house
Sidebar: Regardless of what makes you unique, embrace who you are. Enough said.
Tell me about the event.
It started in February of 1999. I was working with Dr. Al Simmons who is now retired.
He was the Vice President over Multicultural Affairs, then his title changed, but I can’t remember the name. Every year he tried to come up with a different project that would speak to black history month but that was positive. Sometimes we would have a speech contest or an essay writing contest. At some point we were brainstorming. I suggested we try a poetry and fiction reading and have it showcase famous or African American writers that I am familiar with. It wasn’t just your regular open microphone. It was a little more orchestrated and focused on specific writers.
We invited the Columbus State Community to come and participate. I have anyone who is willing come and read. It might be someone that reads from the budget office, or an instructor who is teaching environmental science, or a math instructor, or one of the administrators. The president has read several times. It is made up of faculty, staff, administrators, students, and people from the community. Ninety to ninety-five percent are writers that most are familiar with, and maybe five percent is made up of an original piece. Some students share their material, and some of the faculty members who are writers.
I think too often when we go into those things that concern African Americans or people of color in our community we focus on the negative. We look at the numbers of those that are incarcerated, the numbers that are drug addicted, the numbers that come from broken homes, the numbers that are failing in some capacity. We are not ignoring those chief concerns because the poetry and prose speak about those concerns. We focus on the positive, activism, and uplifting the people. We focus on what makes the African American experience beautiful and wonderful, and sometimes ugly and horrible too. It still must be presented in such a way that when we leave the experience we leave with hope. You don’t leave the experience and say, “Oh my God let me find the nearest cliff and jump off it.”
It has gone on every year. This will be our twenty first gathering. This event is racially diverse, it is diverse in term of positions on the campus, and the range of expertise varies.
What makes the event special and well attended?
Part of it is relationship building. When I normally put out a call for readers, there is something about me posting a flyer, or I have had it listed in the Columbus State Update, but there is a difference between I saw you in the library and I have cornered you and say, “I have sent you ten invitations or the last ten years and I can’t get you to read. Are you going to read for me this year?” That is different because it becomes relational. I have asked you specifically to come in all your brownness and read some of this material. I go to the people who have read for me for many years or to go to people and say, “I need your voice, I need your presence. I need people to be able to see you in this particular light, sharing this kind of information.” So often the readers will find poets or prose writers that they want to read and will share the background and biographical information with the audience. You will be surprised how much instruction comes out of the folk before they even read their material. They will share an artist that they have loved for years and a piece that speaks to them or has spoken to them over the years that has provided encouragement about living this life.
Tell me about your professional background that prepared you for your current level of success.
I have several degrees if that is where you want to start. My undergraduate degree, although I spent the first three and a half to four years in Engineering is in English from Ohio State University (OSU). I have a master’s degree in English from OSU. Later I earned a master’s Degree in Theological Studies. Most recently in 2017 I earned a PHD in Higher Education Administration.
Part of my background that has prepared me for the work that I do is I am an educator. More specifically English professor. If you keep it within that ball park of Educator. I have been a lifelong learner. My college experience started in the 1980s, and then I tell you that I just completed the PHD in 2017. You see all these years of constantly studying, trying to acquire additional information. Not so much to benefit myself, although that is part of the benefit, but to make sure that what I bring to teaching experience helps to benefit my students.
It is constantly looking for tools to speak to the next generation of students, so they can receive the information. For example, I am teaching the Personal Experience Narrative. I have been teaching that class for 26 years. Here I am teaching a fresh crop of students and they are not the same students I had 25 years ago, 15 years ago, or 10 years ago. This is a different group of students with a different mentality. Even though I am teaching the same thing, I must come up with new and exciting ways to bring it to this audience.
I ran across and excerpt from Stephen Curry’s Book called Underrated. In the beginning of the book he provides the context from which he begins telling the story. In it he has performed horribly at a tournament or something. I think he is thirteen. He talks about the conversation that his parents have with him in the hotel. He was down and depressed. At some point his mother says to him, “This is your story. Nobody else gets the right to tell this story but you, it is yours. It doesn’t make any difference what any writer says, any other player says, any other coach says. It doesn’t make any difference. This is your story.” In introducing the narrative to my students, I have presented to them, here is an excerpt from Stephen Curry who tells you about his own failure, but he understands that it is his story. What becomes of it is up to him. How he interprets it. How he uses it. That is his. He gets to own that. I use that as a means of encouraging my students tell their story according to what they understand their truth to be.
Being a lifelong learned allows me to always consider myself as a learner, my students as leaners, and to come up with things that will help them be able to do the tasks that we are asking them to do. All of that has been formed by the degrees in English, the degree in Theology, and the continued education with the PHD. Having to write that dissertation was no joke. It made me go through the process and sit in that same place of vulnerability as my students when their work is being critiqued. Learning how to receive the criticism in a way that doesn’t cripple me going forward. It also helped me remember to be sensitive as it concerns how I am critiquing somebody else’s work who is in a place of vulnerability that I recently experienced. Lifelong learning had formed my ability as a learner and as an educator how important it is to be sensitive to the person who is sitting in that seat and yet still be in a place where I can receive information. I am not an old dog that can’t learn new tricks.
In case you missed it, click on the link to see Dr. Clark’s commencement address (Columbus State Community College Autumn 2018):
My take. This is a wonderful event to support not only because of the diversity that Crystal Clark mentioned but because everyone seemed so relaxed, friendly and purposeful.
Crystal Robinson Clark is one of the people who make 614 a better place to live. My mind goes back to the days of Innis Elementary school. We were the students who earned the highest grades on a consistent basis. When the teacher left the room, Crystal was trying to build relationships and I was trying to get my work done. In the 1980s when we attended Ohio State University it was believed that unless you graduated in business or engineering you were destined to be a bum. I am extremely proud that the Lord has rewarded Crystal beyond many of her peers for being obedient to the path less traveled. I am also proud that she is still one of my closest friends.
39 E State St,
Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
For as long as I can remember, it has been our family tradition to attend Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, performed by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan, the day after Thanksgiving. I have seen the play at the Ohio Theatre, the Palace Theatre, and the Southern Theatre in the past. In my opinion, the best place to see this play is at the Ohio Theatre, mainly because of the pipe organ sing along.
How long have you been opening for “A Christmas Carol” at the Ohio Theatre?
Around 15 years now.
How did you get the gig? (i.e. did you start off volunteering? Are you part of a club that plays the organ? Did the play seek you out? Did the Ohio Theatre administration recommend you to the play?)
I have been the Ohio Theatre's Resident Organist since 1992, so this is naturally one of the things that I do in addition to the summer films, etc. I was appointed to that post after playing a solo concert on the Morton in 1992. The organ is played only by professional theatre organists for public events.
What type of organ is located at the Ohio Theatre?
A Robert Morton pipe organ. It is one of the largest that company built, and a very fine and prestigious instrument. It is internationally known.
Tell me about your music background? (i.e. did you start off in piano lessons? Do you play other instruments? How did you transition to the type of organ you currently play?)
I started with piano lessons, church organ, the usual band in school, then theatre organ. I was at the farewell Roger Garrett concert at the Ohio Theatre in 1969 and was so taken with the organ that I wanted to play one. I had no idea that it would eventually be almost 100% of what I do - and on that very same organ.
Do you play different types of organs?
Only pipe organs - it doesn't matter what kind.
How is the type of organ you play at the Ohio Theatre different than playing a Hammond B3 organ?
Hammonds are electric instruments. This is a high-pressure theatrical pipe organ. There is little similarity, the pipe organ being by far the grandest, most versatile and colorful of musical instruments. Possessing percussions and traps, as well as pipes that are available in thousands of combinations, these are literally a one-man orchestra. Anything the symphony can do; an organist can reproduce on an organ like the Morton.
What is your favorite type of organ to play and where is it located?
The Ohio's Morton is certainly one! Also, the Kimball organ formerly in Milwaukee's Oriental Theatre, and the Chicago Theatre's Wurlitzer organ.
Do you give lessons? If not, can you give a referral?
I teach at the University of Oklahoma. Theatre organ is a private study for the most part. I know people who regularly teach based on geographical area.
Any advice for a young person to do what you do?
The solo theatre organ field is very limited, but silent picture playing is in full swing. There are only a handful of people who really understand this art form, so there is opening for young people who want to learn and perfect it as their craft. We teach the only silent film/organ scoring courses in the world at the University of Oklahoma in the organ department there.
What is your booking information?
Folks can go to my website (clarkwilson.net) for information and updates.
Sidebar: My favorite song of the sing along is the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
I love the play. I’ll just share a few of my favorite parts.
At this point in the play Scrooge is like many people, living only for himself, wanting to help no one.
At this point in the play, Scrooge is faced with everyone’s fate, death. Each year, this play reminds the audience the importance of living with the end in mind. We are here for a reason and a purpose and it is our duty to achieve that purpose.
In my opinion, the best performance of this play was several years ago. The man who played Scrooge was retiring after many years. The toy soldier and doll performed moving dances as scene transitions. I enjoyed hearing the Hallelujah Chorus sing along at the beginning of the performance instead of during the intermission. The sing along allows the audience to interact with those who they are seated near. This is a family tradition that we plan to continue. If you are planning to park at the underground at the State House, plan to arrive about a half an hour before the show to make sure you can hear all the songs in the beginning.
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
1251 Bryden Rd.
Columbus, OH 43205
According to the website galleryinthehood.com, a mural painting, music, poetry, vendors, etc. was planned. I arrived at the address and was told the festival was cancelled due to rain. In their defense, rain was in the forecast and it did rain; but, it didn’t rain until after I left which was around 6:45 pm. I didn’t see any rain prior to that. I noticed a young lady sitting in a chair holding an acoustic guitar. When I got a little closer, she started playing and another young lady started singing. Their names are Keisha Soleil and B. Soleil.
Hakim Raquib, artist
I’m an artist originally from Boston Massachusetts. I’m a Master resident artist in the African American Masters Artist in Residence Program at Northeastern University (AAMARP).
What moves you to the type of art that you selected?
Aesthetics and process. Most of the work here is under the realm of digital art. That is the title of the exhibition. It has been digitally created and printed by me by hand, with what you call pigment inks on enhancement paper. My work is about the transformation of imagery. I am curious as to what more can there be in an image. I grew up in analog now I have moved to the digital realm. I think of these works as futuristic within the media. I want to see how far I can go in creating different filters and what comes out of these filters. Most of this work is algorithmically driven in a program called “Deep Dream.” This is the landscape that it creates.
Do you have a favorite piece?
My favorite piece right now is called “Gele”. It’s the second to the last piece I did before I came to Columbus. “Gele” is about texture. This is a deep dreaming image. It’s a crop from a larger portion. I didn’t want to make it huge. I wanted to show the texture of the process. My work tends to be relatively large.
My last piece is a picture that I took a while ago of Aretha Franklin. I wanted to honor her by making it the signature piece for the show. I took that analog image of her in 1980 at the Rose Bowl. She was one of many artists. Other artists included Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. I could capture her because I was working with Stevie Wonder at the time. Aretha Franklin wasn’t the head liner at the time, Stevie Wonder was.
The African American Masters Artist in Residence Program at Northeastern University (AAMARP) was founded by Dana Chandler. He is an art activist who now lives in Gallop, New Mexico. The program is currently under attack. The University wants to take over this 40-year-old program. We need to resist that.
The guy in the picture is an attendee who wanted his picture taken.
I loved the art! It was fascinating hearing about the process of turning digital images into a different work of art. I said different work of art because I believe some digital images can be a work of art without altering them (other than enhancing the image). Regarding the rain and the festival being cancelled…..No comment.
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Edited by Kyra Dawkins
Although Jerry Page makes his presence known at Thompson Recreation Center, he is an employee of Beatty Recreation Center. If you can train weekday mornings, Beatty might just be the place for you.
You may remember when Jerry Page won a silver medal at the 1983 Pan American Games. Or perhaps you’ll recall when he won the light welterweight gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
At first glance, I pegged Coach Page as a laid back introvert who only pipes up in conversation when directly addressed or to laugh at others’ comments. As it turns out, that assumption is accurate to a point. But Coach Page is an authoritarian when it comes to the gym. Here is a warning to the females: the gym is not short of boxing “experts” who are all too willing to offer their “expertise” to new people, especially females. If Coach Page is not at the gym when you go to workout, a way to get rid of the “experts” is to ask them about the specifics of their supposed success. Also add that you will be sharing their suggestion(s) with Coach Page. Usually that’s the end of that. They mumble something under their breath and “get ta getting”. Whenever one of the “experts” approached me while Coach Page was there, all he had to do was say “Hey” and the “help” left the gym.
If you work out with Coach Page at Beatty Recreation, you need to bring your own wraps and pair of gloves. I started with the Title Classic gloves. After a couple of weeks they started to tear. I currently train with the 14 ounce Title gel gloves. They seem to add extra cushion and my hands feel more comfortable during the workout. As you train, Coach Page will suggest what you should be doing, but will not insist. He will tell you that, out of his experience working with different coaches, he believes the best way to workout is to do the most difficult part of the workout first and to end with the easiest part. So the order should be general warm up, then box, then work on the heavy bag, then shadow box, and finally jump rope. Coach Page’s training philosophy is there is no point in being at the gym all day wasting time. He will tell you, “If you see the heavy bag is available, get to it!”
A word of caution: just because Coach Page appears to be laid back and small in stature, do not, I repeat, DO NOT challenge him to a few rounds. I made the mistake of calling him out since I wanted to work out and my primary coach was not available. We agreed to compete the best 2 out of 3 matches. When I showed up for the first week, I believed we were only going to spar to the body. Ummm... wrong. Coach Page was hitting my head gear. I rarely get hit in my head gear, so I wasn’t exactly a fan of that. However, Coach Page let me win and all was right in the world. Being the trash talker that I am, I started taunting him. The following week when we competed, he just about knocked me out the ring. As a matter of fact, I stepped out of the ring during the second round and was told to “get back in the ring” because he wasn’t finished….” The third and final week Coach Page “beat me a fool.” I will NEVER, I repeat, NEVER get in the ring with him again.
In my opinion, Beatty Recreation Center is wonderful place to workout . It offers a great workout room and an adequate boxing area. From an adult boxing perspective, the reason to go to Beatty is Jerry Page. But a final warning, don’t challenge him to a fight!