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Lea, whose blend of gospel, jazz, country and R&B has captured the attention of major record labels, concert promoters and acoustic music fans nationwide, will perform at Carroll Arts Center on Jan. 20.
Lea, whose blend of gospel, jazz, country and R&B has captured the attention of major record labels, concert promoters and acoustic music fans nationwide, will perform at Carroll Arts Center on Jan. 20. (Courtesy photo)

Over the years, the Carroll County Arts Council has brought many thought-provoking programs to the Carroll Arts Center. Join them at 2 p.m. on Jan. 20 to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and hear the soulful voice of performer Lea and her “Songs of the Civil Rights Movement.”

“We have presented intentional programs on MLK Day for several years with the intent to honor the legacy of Dr. King,” said Andy Woodard, Arts Center program coordinator. “What I hope is that these programs generate meaningful conversations about the history — present and future — of our country.”

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Attendees will hear classic gospel, folk, rock, jazz and blues tunes in a musical tribute to MLK, a historical snapshot of the 1950s and ’60s.

“This is largely a project of reaching into my youth and singling songs that were the soundtrack for my upbringing,” Lea said. “The wonderful thing has been to recognize, learn, and share the many meanings and histories of the songs. I’ve largely chosen songs that move me, are memorable and that embody the message of the movement.”

While Lea often draws comparisons to other female phenoms like Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco, her blend of gospel, jazz, country and R&B is presented with a clear style of its own — she calls it SoulFolk.

In addition to “Best Female Vocalist” and “Best New Artist” nominations from the Washington Area Music Association, Lea’s career has captured the attention of major record labels, concert promoters and acoustic music fans nationwide.

Born in Baltimore to a father who toured the world playing trumpet in the funk band Black Heat and a mother who dreamed of opera while performing with her siblings in the Jones Family Gospel Singers, Lea has shared the stage with luminaries including Odetta, Mavis Staples, Dar Williams and Anthony Hamilton. As soon as she could speak, she began singing in the pulpit of her Baptist church. Then, as a teen, she taught herself to play guitar while writing her own songs. Lea’s final year in high school was spent in Germany at a classical conservatory, where she sang with the jazz ensemble Black & White and co-wrote with the British pop trio Indigo Wild.

“To me, the songs are a time capsule and [a] way to remember the path to this point,” Lea said. “They also continue to offer themselves as relevant for empowering us on the continued journey forward.”

According to Lea, this is a show for all ages.

“At the simplest level, kids will benefit from and enjoy the ample opportunities to make music and singing together,” she said. “There’s great fun and pleasure and significance in that which is meaningful to all ages and developmental stages. Come to celebrate the progress we’ve made on the vision and dream that Dr. King articulated so succinctly. Come, also, to be invigorated for the constant recalibration and recommitment that is required to honor and realize the dream today.”

The show, sponsored by Carroll Community College, costs $8 for ages 25 and younger and ages 60 and older, or $12 for other adults. Arts Council members get an additional 10% off. Also, because this is a day of service, the Arts Council will offer free admission to anyone who has volunteered for a nonprofit during the past year.

Tickets can be purchased online via CarrollCountyArtsCouncil.org or at the box office.

The Carroll Arts Center is located at 91 W. Main St. in downtown Westminster. For more information, visit their website or call 410-848-7272.

Gymnastics competition takes stance against bullying

See kids of all ages compete in gymnastics at the Carroll County Agriculture Center on the weekend of Jan. 24 to 26. The EGSPA Gymnastics Competition is billed as the fifth annual Anti-Bullying Invitational, with a portion of all proceeds to be donated to support Anti-Bullying Education.

Sponsored by the Excellence Gym Sports Parents Association (EGSPA), in coordination with Synergy Sports of Frederick, the competition features gymnasts between the ages of 5 and 18 performing, from Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Melissa Hart is the parent association president for the EGSPA, a nonprofit that supports gymnasts on the competitive gymnastics’ teams at Synergy Sportz.

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“Gymnasts will perform all in four events: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise,” Hart said. “This event is important to the gymnasts because, not only does it allow them to strengthen their gymnastic abilities, but they are participating in an event that works to raise awareness around bullying.”

Saturday admission to the event costs $15 for adults; $10 for military and seniors; $5 for children ages 5-12; or free for children younger than age 5. A weekend pass costs $25 for adults; $15 for military and seniors; and $7 for kids ages 5-12.

Hart said food, including breakfast and lunch/dinner items, will be available for purchase at the event.

“Folks should check out this event,” Hart said. “There will be a wonderful display of gymnast talent from all levels, and the more awareness we can raise around bullying, the more we can try and teach our children that kindness rocks!”

Event information can be found online at: https://synergysportz.com/antibullying-invitational. Those with questions can call Synergy Sportz at 301-874-6036.

The Carroll County Ag Center is located at 706 Agricultural Center Drive in Westminster.

Starry, starry night: Local astronomer to speak

On Thursday, Jan. 23, local astronomer Curtis Roelle will join the Finksburg Planning and Citizens Council (FPACC) for its 7 p.m. meeting at the Finksburg library branch, and the public is welcome to attend.

Roelle will present a general discussion of an out-of-this-world topic: astronomy. As a member of the Westminster Astronomical Society, Roelle is also affiliated with the Bear Branch Nature Center, where the club helped build an observatory and offers an opportunity to observe the stars in their 29-seat planetarium.

“Curtis Roelle is quite an expert in astronomy, and his talks are always popular," said Chris Gayo, FPACC board member. "He has been educating the public for almost 20 years through his ‘Star Points’ column for the Carroll County Times and presentations to local groups. I guarantee people will learn a lot from Curtis’ talk.”

Roelle will touch on many of the astronomical topics he’s written about in the past, share benefits and opportunities offered by the Bear Branch Nature Center and the Westminster Astronomical Society, and he’ll also find time for questions from the audience.

As a professional, Roelle — who has a degree in computer science from the University of Nebraska and a master’s in computer science from Johns Hopkins University — worked with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt on the Mars Observer orbiting satellite program.

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The FPACC is a nonprofit community organization founded in 2002 to promote the Finksburg community and preserve the fundamental quality of life where farms, families and businesses may coexist in a manner beneficial to all. They hold their general meetings at the Finksburg branch library at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. For more information on meeting dates or the upcoming presentation, visit them online at www.finksburg.org.

The Finksburg branch library is located at 2265 Old Westminster Pike.

Lois Szymanski covers Finksburg, Gamber, Pleasant Valley, Reese, Sandymount, Silver Run, Smallwood, Union Mills and Westminster. Reach her at 443-293-7811 or LoisSzymanski@hotmail.com.

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