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Annapolis kids to bring "joy and light" with homage to music legends

Performers from the REACH program of Annapolis are producing a live-streamed event, “Souls of the Decades”, from a closed set located in the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis on Saturday night, February 20.

Fifteen children from area schools, will be be performing routines from Soul and R&B stars for the public. They have been practicing for months, to bring a little “joy and light” to viewers.

The show is scheduled to take place that Saturday night, between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on livestream through Annapolis’ Recreation and Parks Department’s Facebook Page, as well as its website.

“These kids have worked tremendously hard,” said Ron-Shaye Clark, director of the REACH after school program in Annapolis.


“We’ve been working on this show since the end of September. It’s a whole lot and some more,” Clark said. “You’ll no longer see the students. You’ll see the characters.”

The non profit Creating Communities helped to support putting the show on. Among other contributions, the group helped see to it that the performers would be properly outfitted for the show.

“They have helped in a tremendous way,” Clark said. “When you see the Supremes, they’ll be dressed up from the wigs on down.”

“Souls of the Decades” will be performed in the style of broadcast TV dance programs like “Soul Train” and “American Bandstand.” Performers have been practicing their dancing routines devotedly for weeks now. they said.

They will be interpreting the works of some the most celebrated Soul and R&B artists America has known through dance, song, and lyp-sync routines.

Bryant Bynum,16, who goes to high school in Annapolis, will be performing as Sam Cooke.

“I will be singing,” Bynum said. “I do like it. It’s really inspiring. Miss Shaye has taught me a lot of patience.”

The teenager said learning Cooke’s moves took a lot of practice. But he was diligent, working three times a week to rehearse. Each time he had learned a new step he was “jumping for joy”, he said.

Zaniya Smith, an 11-year-old middle schooler, also said she put in a lot of work on her performance. She is excited to be part of the show as one of Dianna Ross’s “Supremes.”

”I’m tired, but I still worked,” she said. “I’m excited because I have been staying inside the house all day and practicing.”

Harley Smith, an 11-year old elementary school student, said she is proud to be performing in the part of Dianna Ross.

“She is powerful when she sings,” she said.

At least a dozen other performers will be a part of the show, representing music legends such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and the group New Edition.

Student performers representing those legends them also include names like Khaleah, De’Lahny, De’ Brea, and others. Which one of then might be headlining its own act one day is a guess at this point.

But practice and performance moves them closer to also being celebrated for their own talent. And for them, it’s not really just about the show, it about being together and having some fun.

“The best part about doing this is we are family doing it,” Bynum said,

“We just wanted to bring some light and some joy,” Clark said. “Those particular shows like American Bandstand and Soul Train—they expressed themselves through music. They expressed themselves through dance and color. That’s what the kids are going to bring to the city of Annapolis, and we’re super-excited about that.”