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Group is spreading music
Joshua Hanafin from the 3rd Infantry Division Band, Barbara Buchman, Denise Johnson (Lady DeJohn), Andrew Meronek from the 3rd ID Band, Alfonso Wright, Elizabeth Hanafin and Paul Rivers donated two trombones and a clarinet to Liberty County Panther Band Director Paul Soyahada for the marching band. The group represents the Hinesville Jazz/Poets Meet Up Group. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon
The Liberty County Panther marching band got a bit jazzier with the donation of two trombones and a clarinet, donated by the Hinesville Jazz/Poets Meet Up Group last Thursday.
“This is our mission,” club founder Alfonso Wright said.
Wright said he formed the group in August 2006 because he thought there was not a decent place in Hinesville where a group could gather to listen to jazz and  poetry readings.
He said he decided on the club’s mission due to his childhood experience with the school band.
“I didn’t have money to buy instruments and my parents didn’t have the money to buy the instruments, and the school didn’t provide anything I wanted to play,” he said. “All they had left was the tuba, something that a little fellow such as myself could not carry around. I ended up getting a job and it took me until my sophomore year of high school before I could join the band.”
Wright said he figured his group could help those less fortunate learn the value of music and the power of poetry and the spoken word.
His group meets on the last Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Shoney’s on Highway 84 in Flemington. He said his group has roughly 17 members and is growing. Everyone, he said, who likes to listen to poetry and jazz is welcome. On Aug. 26, the group will celebrate its third anniversary.
“It’s family oriented poetry for the whole family,” said Denise Johnson, the group’s main poet, known by the stage name Lady DeJohn. “It’s an open format. I write my own poetry and we feature different poets and a variety of poetry and spoke word.”
Johnson reads her poetry while Paul Rivers and Wright, known as the A&P Duo Plus Band, provide background music.
“We feed off her energy and we let the music create the background for her,” Rivers said.
The band includes Stan Anderson and two trombone players from the 3rd Infantry Division Band, Joshua Hanafin and Andrew Meronek.
Wright said his group resolved to make instrument donations part of its mission because he thinks the music and arts program within the schools is underfunded.
“We help educate people about poetry and music,” Wright said. “I figured we needed to help those who couldn’t afford it. And that is what prompted us to do this.”
Johnson said she has learned the power of words through her poetry.
“It touches me,” she said. “Especially when they can relate or it affects a part of their lives. Sometimes folks cry when it touched their heart and you really don’t know how to take it because I didn’t mean to make them cry. When I sit down and write, it pretty much comes to me and it flows. I write about love, life, womanhood, children and whatever is on my mind and I try and make it universal.”
Rivers said a while back he told Johnson about the death of his mother-in-law.
“On the spur of the moment she came up with the most beautiful poem you ever heard dedicated to my mother-in-law,” he recalled. “It was tremendous and it tore my heart out. She is so gifted to be able to do this. She brings happiness.”
Wright said it’s that power of poetry and music the group would like to share with the younger generation.
“Next year we plan to give some instruments to the middle school kids who are learning how to play and try to give lessons along with the instruments,” he said.
In addition to the musical instruments donated to the Panther Band, Freedman music donated the cleaning kits for each instrument.
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