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Cider House 'voices' frustration
A Nickel Bag of Funk lead singer Leslie Adele gets emotional Saturday during one of the group’s performances during the VOICES event at Dorchester Academy.



The scent of hot apple cider and the sound of funk drew a small crowd to The Cider House Inc.’s “VOICES: A Celebration of African-Americans through the Arts” event Saturday.
Fewer than 100 people filled the Dorchester Academy gymnasium for an afternoon of poetry, dance, praise and music from some of the most talented up-and-coming young artists in the region.
But the lack of a large crowd did not stop performers or guest speaker, Liberty County School Board Chairman Lily Baker from educating and entertaining those in attendance.
“As we come to the end of Black History Month, I’m reminded of how well America has benefited from its African-American sons and daughters,” Baker told the crowd in her opening address. “From the arts to music, from engineering to education, America has benefited from its African-American sons and daughters.”
Baker said she was surprised by the low interest in the performing arts in Liberty County, an area rich with history and culture, but noted she was hopeful through CHI’s work the interest would grow in the area’s youth.
“As an educator, I’m excited about what Cider House is going to bring to our community for our children,” the chairman said. “We may have the next Nikki Giovanni or Maya Angelou right here in Liberty County, just waiting to be tapped into.”
Savannah poet Brandon Coleman, 16, received a standing ovation for his untitled poem that expressed his concern that his generation has lost the “concept to self-express” and “forgot how to love.”
Rousing applause was also given to 15-year-old Savannah poet Marquis Williams for the emotion he displayed during his poem, “The Present Speaks.”
“Do you even care, care about your lives? Do you even care about the tears your people cried?” he asked young people in the audience. “They died to make a way for us.”
Throughout the show, the band “A Nickel Bag of Funk” kept the crowd moving and singing along to lead singer Leslie Adele’s emotional renditions of everything from Stevie Wonder classics to recent gospel hits.
The audience also enjoyed poems from Spitfire Poetry Group co-founder Clinton Powell, dance performances from the Mahogany Shades of Beauty Dance Company and 11-year-old Hinesville resident Javis Boutwell and a mime performance by the Mount Zion Youth Mime Ministry team.
Although CHI Executive Director Clarenda Stanley said she was pleased with the performances and glad those who attended VOICES were satisfied, she had some choice words for those absent from the event.
“Everybody wants to sit up there and say we got problems, but when there’s an event (to support the youth) where are you at? As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not doing anything, the next time somebody complains there’s nothing to do in Liberty County, shut up,” she said as she cleaned up after the show. “The next time somebody complains about the crime rate, shut up. The next time somebody says the gangs are on the rise, shut up. Unless you’re doing something, shut up.”
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