Long-time master of ceremonies Leon Shuff has an idea about why the annual Black History Celebration has been enduringly popular for nearly 30 years.
“I just like to thank everybody in the Surry County community. It’s all about them,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for them responding, it probably never would have lasted this long.”
Shuff will return as master of ceremonies at the 2017 celebration, which will be held Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
The free event is open to the public.
“Even though it’s called a black history program it’s for everybody,” Shuff said. “It’s really for the Surry County community, not a certain race or anything. I think that the only way we have a good time is everybody coming together.”
This year’s program will feature an educational component in addition to gospel singing, a youth praise team and other performers.
Darryl Beamer will present information on Surry County’s African-American history.
Local representatives for the National Association of University Women will be on hand distributing information flyers highlighting local and regional organizations and resources, according to information provided by the Surry Arts Council.
The musical lineup includes Jerome Temoney, Roxanne Beamer, Sons of Abraham of Winston-Salem, Community Choir of Mount Airy, Dynamic Voices of Praise, Kings Mountain View Inspirational Choir of Westfield and the VIP Praise Team.
Other performers are to be determined, said Shuff, which is one of his favorite aspects of the event.
“It’s always exciting,” he said. “You don’t ever know who is going to show up. Sometimes a group will come up and just be on it that you wouldn’t even expect.”
Marie Nicholson, one of the event organizers, will lead a group of youth praise dancers drawn from several area churches.
“It gives them a chance to get out and express their talent,” she said. “Some of these youth have not been to this program before. They just need the opportunity to shine and this is one of those times. We have to keep them motivated, keep them engaged.”
Tanya Jones, arts council executive director, said several different cultural organization leaders have submitted proposals for new programs in addition to the annual celebration.
“I have had more interest this year,” said Jones, who will be helping those leaders pursue sub-grants and get new events placed on the calendar for next year.
“Lots of good ideas,” she said. “We’re all looking forward to working together on programming. It’s a happy time.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. for the celebration, which is funded in part by a Grassroots Grant from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Shuff said groups and performers can still be added to the program. Anyone interested should contact him at 446-813-3814 or the Surry Arts Council at 336-786-7998.
“We thank everybody for participating,” he said, “and just continue to keep doing the same thing so it’ll keep getting better and better.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.