RE SO UR CE GU IDE
Celebrating The Year of
Macon County Music Art & Culture Moton Field Tuskegee Municipal Airport Where to Worship In Macon County
Macon County, Alabama
AL A BAM A
Come Grow With Us Macon Count y Com mis si on
Miles Robinson District 1
Albert Daniels District 2
Louis Maxwell Chairman Andrew Thompson, Jr. District 3
Robert “Mike” Berry District 4
A County Rich in History, Heritage and Hospitality
101 East Rosa Parks Avenue • Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 • 334-727-5120 • www.maconcounty-al.org Macon County Agencies Working Hard To Serve All Citizens:
Macon County Sheriff’s Department • East Central Mental Health Services • Macon County Library • Macon County Water Authority • Macon County Health Department • Macon County Elderly Nutrition Program • Macon County Rural Transportation • Emergency Management Agency • Macon County Juvenile Services • Macon County Extension Service • Macon County Community Action • Macon County Emergency Medical Service • Retired Senior Volunteer Program • Senior Aid Services to the Elderly • County-Wide Water System • County-Wide Solid Waste System • Macon County Council For Retardation and Rehabilitation
M AC O N C O U N T Y. . . P E R F E C T F O R A B AC K YA R D B R E A K - C AT I O N
Not so long ago, we never would have thought that driving to places that are close to where we live would amount to much of a vacation. We felt that if it wasn’t several states or countries away to the beaches in the Carribean Islands or mountains in Montana or wine country in California, it just wasn’t a real break from the everyday grind.
But now the cost of travel makes us think twice about jumping on an airplane to get to a destination. Airline ticket prices are sky high and airline companies are charging for everything from baggage to peanuts. Driving is not much better with gas prices close to $4.00 per gallon. So, its time to take a different approach.
We don’t have to give up the pleasure of a great vacation. We just have to cut back on the number of miles we travel. Here in Macon County, we have something for everyone, making this a perfect place for a break-cation right outside your backyard. We have history, culture, beaches, mountains, caves, hiking, hunting, bird watching, festivals, museums, parks, rivers, lakes, wineries, historic homes, food, shopping, national forests and many other tourism assets for enjoyment and enlightenment.
A list of Macon County’s tourism assets includes: • All Macon County Day Celebration • Bartram Trail: Tuskegee National Forest • Booker T. Washington Church home • BPA Labor Day Fly-In • Burial Site of Booker T. Washington • Burial Site of Dr. George Washington Carver • George Washington Carver Arts & Crafts Festival • George Washington Carver Museum • Harris Barrett School • Hillbilly Mall • Historic Homes • Hounddog Day • Juneteenth Celebration • Lake Tuskegee • Lionel Richie Birthplace • Little Texas Tabernacle and Campground • Macon County Historic Courthouse • Moton Field Airport (Home of the Tuskegee Airmen)
• Old South Equine • Possum Day • Rosa Parks Birthplace • Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church • SuCaro Ridge • Taska Recreation Area: Tuskegee National Forest • Tsinia Wildlife Viewing Area: Tuskegee National Forest • Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site & Museum • Tuskegee Downtown Historic District • Tuskegee Heritage Museum • Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center • Tuskegee National Forest • Tuskegee University • The Oaks (Booker T. Washington Family Home) • Whippoorwill Vineyards • White Oak Plantation • Zora Neale Hurston birthplace
All of this can be had on ONE TANK OF GAS. Lets break-cation in our own backyard!
T U S K E G E E THE EPITOME OF
H I S TO RY. . . H E R I TAG E . . . H O S P I TA L I T Y
TUSKEGEE was incorporated in 1843. The momentum that occurred during the rest of the 1800's established the City's reputation as an educational powerhouse. TUSKEGEE has wisely preserved its history while simultaneously preparing for the years ahead. Today it still has old world charm, with a city center dominated by the town square. There you will find a serene park, quaint storefronts and genuine southern hospitality. The future will usher in a new era of progress and prosperity that will include healthy nurturing of tourism by business and government
leaders and friendly overtures to tourists. We hope you take us seriously when we say it's time to Rediscover Tuskegee. TUSKEGEE,, the home of Tuskegee University, is located 40 miles east of Montgomery. The population is approximately 12,500, including approximately 3,600 students at Tuskegee University. Tuskegee is â€œthe cradle of Black aviationâ€? in America and home of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Visitors will find Tuskegee a beautiful city with a topography of rolling hills, spruce pines, lakes, streams and meadows.
For More Information Contact: Community Tourism Network, Inc. 608 Dibble Street Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 334.724.8496 or visit: www.tourismresource.org
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From the Publisher…
Sometimes life hands you a golden opportunity. That’s what happened when state tourism officials picked music as the theme for tourism campaigns in the year 2011. They have a statewide focus. I narrowed my attention to music that is associated with Macon County.
This edition of the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide spotlights local music history and also showcases some of the art, culture and visioning that can be found in Macon County today.
Thank you for your interest in the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide. If the magazine is really effective, you will be motivated to plan a trip to Macon County for the first time or as a returning guest.
I thank everyone in Macon County who understands the promise and potential of tourism, especially our advertisers. These entities want to connect with our readers. I ask the readers to please support these businesses and organizations.
Inquiries regarding the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide should be directed to Noah Hopkins at 334.725.8496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you soon…
Noah Anthony Hopkins Publisher Macon County Tourism Resource Guide
2 BACKYARD BREAK-CATION
7-8 LIONEL RICHIE...TUSKEGEE’S SHINING STAR 11-12 A COUNTRY MUSIC GIANT
13-14 TUSKEGEE’S DREAMGIRLS
17-18 TOM JOYNER...GUARDIAN OF OLD SCHOOL MUSIC 20-21 WHERE TO WORSHIP IN MACON COUNTY 23-24 7TH WONDER
25-26 TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY CHOIR 27 THE OPALS
29-30 TUSKEGEE REPERTORY THEATRE
31 RONALD MC DOWELL...AN ARTISTIC GENIUS
33 THE CLARK BROTHERS...SINGING THE GOSPE TRUTH 35 THE HILLBILLY MALL
39-40 MOTON FIELD WELCOMES GOLDEN EAGLE AVIATION
Noah Anthony Hopkins
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Karin Grant Hopkins
Dionne Y. Inman Karin Grant Hopkins
ART DIRECTOR/GRAPHIC DESIGN Noah Anthony Hopkins
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHER Noah Anthony Hopkins
COMMUNITY TOURISM NETWORK, INC. 608 Dibble Street Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 334.725.8496 email@example.com “A Project of Community Touriism Network, Inc.”
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Alabama State Representative, Pebblin W. Warren Rural Business and Economic Development Program Tuskegee University Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program
GRAY, LANGFORD, SAPP, McGOWAN, GRAY, GRAY & NATHANSON, P.C.
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The firm has more than 200 years of combined legal experience. We emphasize the timely delivery of legal services. The firm consists of six attorneys and a support staff of eight. This support team has more than 70 years of combined legal support experience. Admitted to practice in: Alabama, Arizona, Ohio, Washington, Washington. D.C.; all federal courts in Alabama, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, United States Supreme Court
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is birth certificate says born in Tuskegee. His passport says citizen of the world. His credits say Oscar and Grammy award winning, hit-making singer/songwriter/producer with sales of 100 million records. His reputation says Tuskegee’s Shining Star respected by his peers in the music industry and beloved by fans in this By: Karin Hopkins was so hot, he was country and around the world. Lionel Richie has come a long way since his invited to perform childhood days in Tuskegee. During his teen years, a t t h e c l o s i n g the family moved to Joliet, Illinois and he ceremonies of the graduated from Joliet Township High School. He 1984 Olympics in returned to his hometown to attend college on a Los Angeles, an tennis scholarship. While at Tuskegee Institute (now event that was Tuskegee University), he formed a series of R&B broadcast to a groups. But in 1968, he took a giant step towards his worldwide audience. future when he connected with the Commodores. In 1985, Lionel The Commodores originally signed with Atlantic Richie won an Records but made a bigger splash when the group signed with Motown Records. The Commodores hit Oscar for “Say the road with the Jackson 5, where they expanded a You, Say Me,” a fan base already in tune with their music through tune he wrote and sang for the radio airplay of songs like “Brickhouse.” Lionel Richie easily shifted gears and scored big m o v i e W h i t e as a balladeer with “Easy” and “Three Times A Nights, starring Lady,” tunes that continued to swell The Mikhail BarishCommodores’ fan base and propel Lionel Richie into nikov, Gregory Hines and Helen the realm of superstardom. By the late 1970’s, Lionel Richie was writing Mirren. This song music for other artists. He composed “Lady” for reached #1 and Richie performing at the Renaissance Hotel Kenny Rogers and it was a #1 hit song. In 1981, stayed at the top in Montgomery, Alabama in October 2008 Lionel Richie paired with Diana Ross for the duet of the music chart “Endless Love,” which became one of Motown’s most so long it was the #1 song for that year. Also in 1985, L i o n e l R i c h i e collaborated with popular recordings. In 1982, Lionel Richie stepped Michael Jackson for a musical project of epic out as a solo artist. His self-named debut solo album proportions. sold four million copies. In the interest of saving lives, these superstars In 1983, he released his second album, which sold more than eight million copies and won two Grammy gathered their peers for an unprecedented jam awards. Many of his releases were sentimental love session. They co-produced “We Are the World,” songs, prompting a critic to describe him as “ the which became another #1 hit with sales generating millions for famine relief in Africa. black Barry Manilow.” By 1987, an exhausted Lionel Richie, took a break The single, “All Night Long” reached #1 in 1983. to tend to his ailing father, Lionel B. Richie, Sr., who The lyrics describe people dancing in the street and died in 1990. the music has a Caribbean beat. He eventually went back to work and throughout According to published reports, Lionel Richie says the songs he writes are based on real events and he the 1990’s and 2000’s, Lionel Richie continued has experienced parties in the s t r e e t a s d e scribed writing, singing and performing, pleasing his loyal base and adding new fans. in “All Night Long.” In 2008, he once again returned to Alabama to In 1984, his album “Can’t Slow Down” sold more than 10 million copies and won the Grammy for perform at a concert held in conjunction with the A l b u m o f t h e Year. By this time L i o n e l R i c h i e grand opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National
Historic Site, a quasi-museum in Tuskegee established by the federal government to honor the heroic black pilots who served in World War II. In 2010, Lionel Richie announced that he was creating the Lionel Richie Foundation, a vehicle that connects his considerable talent and legacy to the
Richie performing for the opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
City of Tuskegee and Tuskegee University. In 2011, he appointed his lifelong friend, Tuskegee attorney Milton C. Davis as vice president. “He is building the Lionel Richie Legacy Museum on the site of his home house directly across from the entrance of Tuskegee University.” Milton says, explaining the vision this way. ”This Legacy Museum will house all of the memorabilia, awards, archives and documents from the superstar entertainer and global business man and house offices for the Foundation.” The Lionel Richie Foundation also will create a long distance learning program to allow the university to teach students no matter where they are in the nation or on the planet. Attorney Davis says, “Those persons desiring to register for classes at the university will be able to attend those classes in real time any where in the world. Lionel Richie’s childhood home on West This capacity will Montgomery Road in Tuskegee bring the world to Tuskege and Tuskegee to the world.” The foundation also will administer the Lionel Richie Fellows Program. This will further enrich the world-class educational offerings at Tuskegee University, which has already earned a reputation for
excellence in architecture, engineering, veterinary medicine and other disciplines. Attorney Davis says the Lionel Richie Fellows Program ”is open to students from Tuskegee University desiring careers in sports and entertainment management. Internships will be established through the Foundation with the major corporate entities specializing in these professions and allow unprecedented access and apprenticeship opportunities for Tuskegee University students.” His catalog of music is massive and includes classics from the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s as well as new material for today’s generation. Lionel Richie produced a remix of “We Are the World” with Justin Bieber singing Richie’s original part of that song. He has a tremendous following in the country music world and has recorded duets with several country stars including “Stuck On You” with Darius Rucker, “Sail On” with Tim McGraw and “Easy” with Willie Nelson.
Attorney Milton C. Davis, his wife Dr. Myrtle Goore Davis and Lionel Richie
He continues to perform live and his tour schedule has taken him to faraway places including Australia, Morocco, Dubai, Qatar and Libya. No matter how far his travels take him or how high his records soar on the charts, there is only one place where people remember him as a novice dreaming of a career in the music industry, a college classmate majoring in Economics, the son of a respected educator named Mrs. Alberta Richie and a young boy whose nickname was “Skeet.” That place is where life began for the now legendary Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. That place is Tuskegee.
Visit www.tourismresource.org for more information on tourism in Tuskegee and Macon County, Alabama
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A COUNTRY MUSIC GIANT
By Karin Hopkins
James Segrest now lives in Montgomery,
a short distance from the small farm in Shorter, where he was born. Ultimately, fate transported him to a different world, a place with the rare air reserved for geniuses, the gifted and the greats. We interviewed him for the Macon C o u n t y To u r i s m Resource Guide in his living r o o m . L o u ng in g i n his comfortable chair, his aura dominated the s p a c e just as it did when he commanded the stage during his glory years. That aura combined with his storytelling gift and powerful singing voice earned James Segrest t h e b i g g e s t p r i z e s i n t h e entertainment business—steady performance bookings and a recording contract with a major record label. “I had cut a little 45 with a local label...and a guy in Nashville got a hold of a copy...One night I was down here playing music...and the phone rang...and it was him from Nashville wanting to know if I’d be interested in a recording contract with ABC...He wanted to know if I could be there on Monday. This was like Friday night. We went on up there. I took my lawyer with me and we signed with ABC.” James Segrest was destined for greatness but he started on a rocky road. When he was eight years old, he disobeyed his father and toyed with a guitar that he had been told not to touch. He broke a string on that guitar. Consumed with fear, he went with his father to the music store in Tuskegee to buy a replacement string. He was surprised when his father also
bought a guitar for him. A few years later, a youth gospel quartet, which included James Segrest, won a talent show held in Tuskegee. This was in the 1950’s at a time when Tuskegee was thriving with many stores and businesses. Tuskegee was also where everybody in Macon County and neighboring communities came for big events like that talent contest. Winning lit a fire in James Segrest and by the 1960’s he was writing songs with the hard living themes that permeate country music. BANKRUPT by James Segrest
“So the mortgage folks called...gonna take my house away. And I guess I gotta let ‘em cuz I ain’t got the money to pay. I just can’t stand it, can’t take it no more…when the insurance man come knocking on my door…I said Bankrupt…I’m going Bankrupt”
His lyrics can bring you to tears as he describes hurt and hardship. Yet this is pure empathy and not his personal experience. He never did drugs. He never went to jail. He never did anything scandalous. James Segrest lived to work on stage and in recording studios. In 1970, he landed his record deal and scored a big hit entitled “What I’d Give to Be The Wind.” Radio airplay and live performances grew his popularity. His fan base stretched throughout this country. He worked with Willie Nelson before Willie developed his trademark braids and outlaw persona. He opened for Conway Twitty and was a contemporary of Elvis Presley. For 45 years, James Segrest wrote songs that were true to traditional country music. 11
BACK IN THE BEER JOINTS by James Segrest
“I learned my trade in taverns and honky-tonks and bars…sound of crying fiddles…and pedal steel guitars. Back then I barely made enough for drinks and cigarettes. I lost my heart in the beer joints and I ain’t found it yet. A few more years went by and I was really moving up…playing all the dance halls and big city clubs. Had a Silver Eagle bus…roadies and motels…a record on the charts doing fairly well. Now I’m Back in the Beer Joints Again…Back where it really all began…and I guess this is where it all will end…Back in the Beer Joints Again”
A truly gifted song stylist, his delivery is always magnificent, regardless of who composed the lyrics. Clint Dennis, a member of his band, wrote a tender song about an ugly situation. James Segrest conveys it with a blend of romantic sweetness and gut-wrenching pain, It’s a long way from rural Macon County to making it a ballad that is both easy listening and gritty national fame. But James Segrest traveled that road and reality. left a trail of great music along the way. ALABAMA DREAMS by Clint Dennis
“As pure as Southern dirt, all we had was each other…didn’t seem to be enough back then. I worked so hard it hurt…to make one end meet the other…Now I’d gladly do it all again. I did some taking with a gun…left Alabama on the run. I just had to get away from that old farm. But I didn’t make it far. They put me here behind these bars and I miss my woman’s tender loving arms. My Alabama Dreams always put my mind at ease. They take me back in time to the world I left behind”
His ladylove, Angie is also his number one fan. A musician herself, she has an ear for musical excellence. She stated, “He come into a club I was playing at and somebody said James Segrest is in here and I said we got the star in here and he gets up on the bandstand and sings with us and I’m like this is great. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.” 12
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PL AYBILL TUSKEGEE ALABAMA
By Karin Hopkins n the 1960’s, as the world’s ear was tuned to the Motown sound, Tuskegee launched an all-girls singing group called The Joyettes. They were equal in talent and style to the divas in Detroit and were often compared to the hit-makers of that era. The Joyettes consisted of 16-year old Joyce Carter (German), 17-year old Delois Williams (Harris), 18-year old Vera Williams (Smith) and 18-year old Sylvia Thornton (Smith). The parents of Joyce, Vera and Delois were friends who sang in a group called the Tuskegee Sextet. Vera says, “We knew as little kids that we could sing.
‘Lois and I and my baby brother who was about five at the time did three-part harmony at the church...five, six and seven years old…” Delois adds, “We would have been a youtube phenomenon but of course there was no youtube back then.” These four teenagers morphed into a real group, on the same level as the Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. The comparisons started after The Joyettes blew the roof off of Logan Hall at Tuskegee Institute during the 1966 Freshman Talent Show. After the contest, while attending her classes at Tuskegee Institute, 13
Delois says she was summoned by the Dean of Students, Dr. P. Bertrand Phillips. “I thought I had done something horrible…and he asked me about our group. I felt so relieved because I knew then that I was not in trouble. He just wanted to meet us.” Around this time, The Joyettes connected with The Jays, a band that Joyce describes as, “the precursors to The Commodores.”
The 1960’s were a magical time for musicians in Tuskegee. In addition to the Joyettes and The Jays, other aspiring entertainers likewise blossomed at this time. Janis Carter and Bill Patterson made a name for themselves as a duet. However, Janis was versatile. She would switch gears and play piano with The Joyettes. Janis’ singing partner, Bill, also was multi-talented. He was The Joyettes’ songwriter. Another peer group was The DuPonts, which was Tom Joyner’s musical jump off. Vera chuckled at the memory of the now famous syndicated radio deejay Tom Joyner and his clowning around back then. “Can you believe that Tom Joyner used to open up a show for us? Yes he did. And he’d jump out there in his little yellow pants with the polka dot drawers showing through.” At that time The Joyettes Janis and Bill were rising fast with bookings in big cities including New York and Atlanta. Yet Tuskegee’s Dreamgirls walked away from the music business and with no regrets. Vera says, “Even though we were invited by Capitol Records to come, we did not accept because we would have had to drop out of school and we chose to finish college.” In 1967, they recorded an album at the Waluhaje Ballroom in Atlanta. It has been re-mastered on CD and gives today’s audiences a delightful blast from the past. Songs include instrumentals recorded by The Jays and duets by Janis and Bill. The Joyettes’ selections include a re-make of the Dionne Warwick hit; You’ll Never Get to Heaven if You Break My Heart. During the interview with the Macon County Tourism 14
Resource Guide, the ladies performed impromptu and acapella. They still have the vocal range and tight harmony that took them to the brink of stardom. It took more than talent to go from tiny Tuskegee to the bright lights of big cities. The Joyettes had makeup and hair styling assistance, choreography, wardrobes, travel and lodging logistics, performances, marketing and management. They say Dr. Phillips was their fiercest cheerleader. Delois says, “He believed in us and he tried everything he could to make people aware of who we were. We even went to Nassau and we sang down there…and then to go to New York…” (Story continued on page 22)
Catching up with Dr. P. Bertrand Phillips
When The Joyettes and The Jays were performing throughout the United States and in the Caribbean Islands, an enormous amount of planning and preparation had taken place before they hit the stage. Dr. P. Bertrand Phillips was behind the scenes guiding the w or k that wa s unse en by the public. A brilliant administrator and strategist, Dr. Phillips focused on the tedious details that were critical for the Tuskegee musicians to be serious contenders in the entertainment industry. He was Dean of Student Affairs, Director of the Tuskegee Institute Community Education program and Professor of Psychology and Education in the 1960’s when the music scene in Tuskegee exploded. He said, “If the venues had been available there in Tuskegee, I believe it would have become another Austin.” (The capital city in Texas, Austin’s music scene flourished in the 1960’s and is now a multi-million dollar industry. Austin bills itself as the Live Music Capital of the World.) Dr. Phillips fondly remembers what impressed him about The Joyettes. “It was their distinctive voices, their charisma and their spiritual and family underpinnings.” However, he was not surprised they chose education over entertainment. “No. They were all academically minded and at this particular juncture in our nation’s history, they realized that education was the pathway to take.” His son, Dale Phillips and daughter, Judy Phillips were both born at John Andrews Hospital on the Tuskegee Institute campus. He explains that he left for personal reasons. “My family and I made the decision in December 1967 to leave Tuskegee to explore other professional opportunities and the President, Dr. Luther Foster announced my plans to the faculty, staff and students in February 1968. This decision was not made lightly or without sadness. It is important to note that the five years that my family and I spent at Tuskegee were five of the most important, eventful and wonderful years of our lives.”
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By: Karin Hopkins
Old School Music
Lionel Richie and his childhood friend Tom Joyner
ladys Knight was performing at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, when a fan in the audience shouted, “We love you Gladys.” Squinting to look past the bright stage lights into the dark, cavernous seating area, she strained to see the person. Noted for music that gets better with time, the concert was sold out. Admission cost a pretty penny and fans paid gladly to hear this Grammy award-winning vocalist perform her long list of incredible songs. Only an act of God or an enormously important person could have interrupted this show. Now back to the shout-out fan. Even though she could not identify him by sight, Gladys Knight still knew who he was. She recognized his voice, called him by name and thanked him for playing her music on his radio program. She put her show on pause to let the packed house know, just how much she and her peers appreciate Tom Joyner. Born in Tuskegee, Tom Joyner performed in the 1960’s with a singing group called The DuPonts, which was backed by a band called The Commodores. He reportedly told the Los Angeles Times that he could kick himself for not staying with The Commodores until the group became successful. "This is a bitter subject," he claimed. Continuing about his days as a budding musician, he added "I've been friends with Lionel Richie since childhood. We go back to nursery school. And here I am getting up at three in the morning. Do I regret it? Here I am going to the bank every Friday and the bank comes to him. 'Got any checks for us today, Mr. Richie?' Don't get me started," he joked. Joyner’s entertainment career came to an end when he decided that finishing college was more important. In a
professional context, he traded the stage for a studio, embarking on a career in radio that has made him a media mogul. He credits his hometown for the inner fortitude that led to his success. In 2005, he published a book titled I’m Just a DJ But…It Makes Sense to Me, in which he thanks “the entire town of Tuskegee, Alabama for teaching me that no dream is out of reach.” In his book, Joyner talks about his first radio job at a station in Montgomery, “before that I had a Saturday show at the radio station in Tuskegee. It was an outgrowth of a protest march I’d participated in back in the days when instead of watching cartoons or Soul Train on Saturday morning, kids like me marched against segregation.” The protesters were offended that the one radio station in their predominately African American town played only white music. When the station owner agreed to play black music half a day, one day a week, he asked the crowd if anyone was interested in holding down that time slot. Tom Joyner jumped at the opportunity. It was at this time that he began learning about life and business in a way that would later make him famous and rich. The music he played at the Tuskegee radio station was automated, requiring production of a mix tape of songs that would play when he pushed buttons and flipped switches. Tom Joyner says, “I decided that I could make a little more money if I made tapes of the music shows I’d formatted and sold them to other automated stations.” All five of the stations he approached turned him down. However, many years later he realized his concept was an early version of syndication. Today, Tom Joyner is the king of urban radio because of his phenomenal syndication reach. “Every day we talk to more than eight million African Americans in more than 120 markets.” After his first “real” radio job in Montgomery, he moved to several other markets, steadily advancing up the ladder of success. By the early 1980’s, he was a dominant personality on the airwaves in Chicago. He later moved to Dallas to host a morning program. Within a few years, Chicago was calling him back. Instead of picking one city over the other, he chose to work in both places at the same time. "I got to thinking," Joyner told People Weekly. "Dallas and Chicago are in the same time zone. There was plenty of time between the morning and afternoon shows," he continued.
He looked into travel arrangements, and discovered that between available flights and typical weather patterns, he would likely be able to make both jobs almost 100 percent of the time. This is when he became known as “The Fly Jock,” a fitting nickname considering his schedule—on the radio in Dallas by 5:30am, sign off at 9:00am, board a plane for Chicago by 10:00am, hit the air in Chicago from 2:00pm until 6:00pm and board a plane headed back to Dallas by 10:00pm. He did this five days a week for eight years. Joyner also became known as “The Hardest–Working Man in Radio,” another well deserved tag for a man with two shows in two different cities, both occupying first place in the ratings. He attributes his work ethic to Tuskegee and a father who “let me know that a job half done was not acceptable.” He also knows that often a good business model is rooted in a service mindset. This is something else he perfected in Tuskegee. While attending college, he gathered the crumbs from fried chicken cooked at a Tuskegee restaurant, bagged the crumbs and sold them for 25 cents per bag. “You see, once a child has it in his head that he can earn money by providing a service, it never leaves him.” He has come a long way since those days of selling chicken crumbs but he is still using the same business model and service mindset, though now on a much larger scale. Working simultaneously in two cities, was an oddity that drew national media coverage, meaning people all over the country knew about The Fly Jock. After quitting the bi-city routine, he took a short break and settled into a slower pace, hosting a weekend countdown show syndicated by the CBS radio network. Then in 1993, ABC offered Joyner a syndication deal that he could not refuse. In 1994, The Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) launched with 29-affiliated radio stations airing the program. The TJMS expanded to 62 stations within its first two years. By 1998, the show was in 95 markets. In 2003, Joyner bought his syndicated program from ABC and consolidated his media and business empire into a new company—REACH Media, Inc., which he controlled. By 2004, the show was being heard in 115 markets. Also in 2004, Radio One paid $56 million for a majority stake in Tom Joyner’s company. A leading voice in black America, Tom Joyner speaks to his
Tom Joyner and his crew at the ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans
audience about deep social and political issues. His format is a blend of social commentary, comedy and mostly old school music with an occasional hip hop tune on the play list. He is a
staunch supporter of nostalgic R&B as well as today’s artists whose style emulates classic R&B grooves. For years, The Tom Joyner Morning Show broadcast live from every major event in the country—Magic City Classic, ESSENCE Music Festival, the Super Bowl. If an event drew a huge crowd, Tom and his entire production crew would fly into that city and set up for remote transmission. Not only would they broadcast, they would host an early morning party of their own and draw a packed house. People would begin lining up at 3:00am and earlier to be in place when the doors opened for the 5:00am start time. This traveling show eventually became the Southwest Airlines Sky Show, featuring old school artists as entertainment. Major corporations would go on stage during these sky shows and give large checks to The Tom Joyner Foundation to assist the foundation in its commitment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The corporations knew the value in being seen by those in attendance and being mentioned on the air while eight million listeners were tuned in. A few years ago Joyner d r o pped the sky shows. Tom with a $60,000 donation from However, he continues to NOKIA to his foundation provide work for old school artists by booking them to perform at The Tom Joyner Family Reunion and on his annual cruise ship party, The Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage. Money from the cruise is donated to HBCUs, including Tuskegee University where Joyner earned his undergraduate degree in Sociology. Tuskegee nurtured him academically and he in turn has nurtured thousands of college students by donating millions to HBCUs. In 2009, Florida A&M University (FAMU) reported raising $1 million during the Tom Joyner Foundation School of the Month program. In 2010, FAMU and Tom Joyner announced creation of the Tom Joyner Online Education (TJOE) program, allowing students to graduate from participating HBCUs after completing classes online. In May 2011 he returned to Tuskegee University to serve as commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony. That entertainment career he flirted with in the 1960’s was not meant to be but he is still a dominant figure in the music industry. Tom Joyner connects a specific genre of music with an audience that has an appetite for the old school sound. Though this music is now accessible on copycat radio programs, the Internet and iTunes, for a long time Joyner was in a league by himself. During those years, he helped to save old school artists from oblivion. Through his radio program and various enterprises, Tom Joyner is preserving and perpetuating music first made popular 30 to 50 years ago by great artists including his childhood friend Lionel Richie and the grateful Gladys Knight. Tom Joyner’s life is the ultimate Party With a Purpose. Who knows where it will end but we know it began in Tuskegee. Visit www.tourismresource.org
Where to Worship in Macon County Antioch Baptist Church 1220 County Rd 5...........334-727-5824
Fort Hull Community Church 4774 County Rd 45.........334-727-1287
Masjid Ash-Shura 906 Franklin Rd, Tuskegee, AL 36088
Bethel Baptist Church 802 Bethel St Tskgee.......334-727-7961
Friendship Baptist Church Brown St...........................334-727-3455
Mt Nebo Baptist Church 7677 US Hwy 29S Tskge..334-727-5113
Butler Chapel AME Zion Church 1002 N Church St Tskgee334-727-3550
Greater New Life Church, Inc. 1315 Old Montgomery Rd.......334-724-0617
Apostolic Faith Mission Inc 3820 Washington Av........334-727-2631
Bradford’s Chapel UMC 2091 County Rd 29.........334-727-6333
Franklin Church 2700 Cnty Rd 27 Tskgee..334-727-4411
God House Of Prayer 408 S Elm St...................334-724-9961
Chehaw AME Zion Church Highway 199....................334-727-9159
Greater St. Mark Missionary Bpt Church 3403 W MLK. Hwy...........334-727-1780
Concord Baptist Church Church 11:00....................Notasulga, AL
Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church 1510 Washington Av........334-727-0871
Church Of Christ 1702 S. Main St...............334-727-7200
Daniel Baptist Church 1201 Gautier St..............334-727-1900
Greater White Church 35779 Cnty Rd 2 Shorter..334-725-0091
Hicks Chapel AME Zion Church 576 Lowe Road................334-252-8001
Divine Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Central Milstead Rd Shrtr.334-727-1317
Jehovah’s Witnesses Tuskegee AL 1410 Notasulga Hwy........334-727-3152
Eternal Life Temple of God 89 West Ave Tuskegee....334-725-1555
Macedonia Baptist Church 1260 County Rd 10 Tskg..334-727-6468
Divine Inspirational Gospel Church 4771 Hwy 199 Tskgee......334-727-9846
Faith Ministries PAW 2501 Holy Ghost Circle...334-727-1491
First Baptist Church Reeltown 16963 Highway 49S........334-257-4515
Jubilee Christian Fellowship Intl Midway............................334-727-5833
Macedonia Baptist Church 444 Auburn Road..............334-257-3343
Mary Magdalene Baptist Church 4294 Cross Keys Rd Shrt.334-727-2923
2011 Macon County Alabama Tourism Resource Guide
Mt Calvary Missionary Christian Church 1504 Bruce St..................334-727-1006
Mt Olive Missionary Christian Church 410 Cedar St Tskgee........334-727-3080
Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church 33800 County Rd 2 Shrtr..334-727-2439
Mt Pleasant Baptist Church Highway 26......................334-727-5383
Nebraska Missionary Church Hardaway........................334-727-4603
New Elam Missionary Baptist Church 1707 County Rd 48.........334-724-9907
New Exodus Apostolic Chuc-Pentcostal 7074 County Road 53......334-257-1445
New Hope Baptist Church 1903 Chappie James Dr...334-727-0613
New Hope Baptist Church 1 1585 Banks McDade Rd..334-727-5004
New Mount Pleasant Baptist Church 426 County Rd13 Shrtr.....334-727-9026
New Life Church of God In Christ 1205 E MLK Hwy Tskgee.334-727-5011
Notasulga First Baptist 185 Hardwich St................334-257-3481
Where to Worship in Macon County Notasulga Methodist Church 80 Church Street...............334-257-3791 Pine Grove Baptist Church 7936 County Rd 40.........334-724-0020
Pit Stop People in Transition 302 S. Elm St Tuskegee...334-727-6940
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church 5040 AL-81.......................334-257-4571
Pleasant Springs Baptist Church Pleasant Springs Dr.........334-727-1166
Providence Missionary Baptist ChurchSociety Hill Rd.................334-727-2063
Rising Star Baptist Church 2603 County Rd 53..........334-724-6600
St Paul Baptist Church Society Hill Rd..................334-724-9467
Sweet Canaan 6067 US Hwy 80W Tskge..334-727-5795
Sweet Gum AME Zion Church 560 Old Mont Hwy Shrtr....334-727-0680
Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church Crossroads.......................334-727-7634
Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church 1325 County Rd 14..........334-724-9396
Tuskegee AOH Church of God 1701 Tolbert Cir Tskgee.....334-727-9069 Tuskegee Christian Center 711 W MLK Hwy................334-725-1700
Rock Of Ages Baptist Church 3004 County Rd 27.........334-727-4179
Tuskegee Islamic Community 1103 South Main St., Tuskegee, AL 36088
Saint John AME Zion Church 1406 Clark Av Tuskegee..334-727-0970
Washington Chapel AME Church 2508 Old Montgomery Rd..334-727-4821
Saint James AME Church 609 White St.....................334-725-1486
Salem Macon Baptist Church 4647 Tallapoosa St..........334-257-4498
Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church Shady Grove Rd..............334-727-4477 Shiloh Baptist Church 7 Shiloh Road..................Notasulga, AL
Tuskegee Seventh Day Adventist Church 377 Lennard Av.................334-727-7198
Westminster Presbyterian Church 1806 Franklin Rd Tskge....334-727-4994
Community Tourism Network, Inc.
TO UR I S M D E VE LO PM E N T IS O UR G AM E We Help Small Towns and Cities Identify and Profit from their Tourism Assets
334.725.8496 or 205.567.6397
Community Tourism Network, Inc.
Woodland Presbyterian Church Church 9:00 -10:00
Solomon Chapel AME Zion Church 4214 MLK Jr Hwy Tskgee334-727-2308
Springhill Baptist Church Morgan Russell Rd......334-727-1725
St Andrews Episcopal Churc 701 W Montgomery Rd.....334-727-3210
St. John Baptist Church 515 St. John Church Rd....334-257-4261
St Paulâ€™s AME Zion Church 18716 US Hy 80 W Shrtr....334-727-2967
2011 Macon County Alabama Tourism Resource Guide
Jimmie S. Wilson
608 Dibble Street Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 334.226.1525 office 334.703.5620 cell email@example.com
(Story continued from page 16)
After leaving Tuskegee, he transitioned to business entrepreneurship, providing consultant services “to educational institutions, government agencies, associations, religious and other institutions and small and large businesses. Research and writing are things that I enjoy, and I am blessed to be able to do these things as well as enjoy our five grandchildren and growing family and to continue to enjoy travel opportunities around the world. I am also beginning to write about the Tuskegee Institute Community Education Program (TICEP).” In 1976, Dr. Phillips and his wife, Judith V. Phillips, co-founded Bermultinational Limited, an Organization Development and Management Consulting firm. The couple resides in Silver Spring, Maryland. (The Joyettes story continued)
It is impossible for The Joyettes and The Jays to reunite. Michael Gilbert, a member of The Jays, is deceased. Sylvia Thornton (Smith) and Janis Carter (Johnson) also died. Bill Winston, the bandleader for The Jays is now a minister living in Chicago. Abram Brown lives in Arizona. Arthur Lawrence and Jimmy Johnson also live out of state. Bobby Owens still lives in Tuskegee and still plays music, performing with the jazz band named Smoke. Talking about his former band, Bobby Owens says, “We had the best of times. Bert Phillips was carrying us into places that we would have never been in, like Town Hall. We were in high cotton in those days. We did the Otis Redding Show at the Apollo. When we hit that first note you could hear ‘Lawd have mercy they got a big sound.’ Bill Winston came out singing and a dude got up and started hollering and fell out of the balcony down on the floor.” Owens said The Joyettes also hit the right notes. “We thought they were going to make it before we would. They sounded just like the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and all those kind of groups. We thought a heck of a lot of those girls. I really appreciate their mothers and fathers following the group. We had them as chaperones everywhere we went.”
IN MACON COUNTY
George Washington Carver Arts & Crafts Festival May 7, 2011 Held on the Tuskegee Square (334) 727-6619 Hound Dog Day May 14, 2011 Hillbilly Mall Little Texas community (334) 727-6476
Possum Day May 21, 2011 Franklin Town Hall Family-friendly arts, crafts, food and entertainment Juneteenth Celebration June 18, 2011 Tuskegee City Square
All Macon County Day August 12 & 13, 2011 Free & Open to the Public (334) 727.5120 ext. 4
BPA Labor Day Fly-In September 2011 Tuskegee Municipal Airport (Moton Field) (334) 727-6485
Tuskegee University Eventʼs list may be accessed at www.tuskegee.edu George Washington Carver Museum Tuskegee, Alabama For Information call: 334.727.3200
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site 1616 Chappie James Avenue Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 For Information call: 334.724.0922 Whippoorwill Vineyards 4282 County Road 31 Notasulga, AL 36866 Phone: 334-257-2711
The surviving Joyettes savor their great memories and memorabilia from the 1960’s. They also still blend their voices in song and lean on each other for support, rocking through life as they did on stage, in perfect harmony.
Victoryland (Greyhound Dog Racing) I-85N at Exit 22 Shorter, AL
7th Wonder on Soul Train with Host Don Cornelius (September 27, 1980): L-R (front) Marvin Patton, Wilbert Cox, Cornelius, Deborah Cox Mathews, Allen Williams and Iulus Chislom; (back) the Oasis Horns Alonzo Bowens and Lloyd Oby. Not shown are Bill Butler, Johnnie Hammon and Jerome Thornton.
th Wonder, initially consisting of six men and one woman, was founded in 1971 by Iulus Chislom, Jr. on keyboards, Sidney Conley on drums/percussions, Marvin Patton on lead guitar/vocals and William Jerome Thornton on bass guitar/background vocals. They brought on additional original members Wilbert Cox, lead vocals/percussions; Deborah Cox, lead vocals/percussions; and Allen Williams, lead vocals/percussions. Another member of the Cox family, Oscar, joined as the original equipment, lighting and sound technician. All were born and raised in Tuskegee, where 7th Wonder continues to base its operations. Chislom contributed the name “7th Wonder” after a contest to determine the group’s name. Each had performed with other bands in past years, most recently with “The Reflections.” The newly formed band adopted Chislom’s idea and the rest is history. 7th Wonder built upon the idea of linking the name with the seventh wonder of the world, the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Connecting the pyramids with the Ancient Egyptian civilization and culture – music, dancing and merrymaking – is how 7th Wonder arrived at its style. “This style became our trademark,” says Marvin Patton. “Our dance routines included many of the innovative Egyptian poses and dance steps. Our music also symbolized some of the Egyptian sounds.” Over the years, the band made changes in membership—
founding drummer, Conley, left in 1973. His main reason was to complete his education at then-Tuskegee Institute. Jesse Oliver of Tuskegee filled the open position. That year, the group recorded its first songs: Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times” an original, “Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves” and another original “Absence Makes The Heart Grown Fonder” on Abet Records of Nashville, Tennessee with Dan Brantley of Selma, Alabama as executive producer. In 1977, Oliver left the band and Khalifah (John Bell) Hameen of Greenville, Alabama joined 7th Wonder as drummer. Between 1977 and 1979, 7th Wonder recorded its first album, “Words Don’t Say Enough” on Parachute Records, a subsidiary of Casablanca Records. The hit single, “My Love Ain’t Never Been This Strong” charted in the mid30s and was picked up by Black Radio, Billboard and Cash Box trade magazines. William (“WG”) Garrison of WG’s Enterprises from Baton Rouge, Louisiana became the group’s executive producer and business manager. Garrison brought Jerry Weaver on board as producer. In 1979, when “Captain Boyz,” a name the members affectionately called Khalifah, left, Weaver brought in Johnnie Hammon of Muscle Shoals, Alabama as drummer. That same year, they recorded “Climbing Higher” and the group was indeed climbing higher with their charted hit single, “Do It With Your Body.” The album was co-produced 23 By: Lateefah Muhammad
and written by Jerry Weaver, Ronald LaPread (Commodores) and 7th Wonder, again on the Parachutes Records label. With a move to Cecil Holmes’ Chocolate City Records, another subsidiary of Casablanca Records, 7th Wonder recorded and released a third album, “Thunder,” an elevation from their first two Casablanca distributed albums. In this 1980 release, the group wrote many of the tunes and also took on some production chores with co-producers Jerry Weaver, Leon Sylvers and Lakeside. “We like to think of it as a sequel. We felt that, in essence, we were giving more music from ourselves for the 80’s” stated the former group leader, Jerome Thornton. Famous for their Egyptian costumes and mythology, 7th Wonder incorporated Egyptian musical hooks in such cuts 7th Wonder with Jesse Oliver (1975) as the dance number, “Tilt,” and the funk-rocker, “Busyman.” WHHY (Y-102) Radio in Montgomery, Alabama, winning a Other tunes on the album included a lilting ballad, “All In All” 4-foot trophy and free studio time. Three major record a country-funk cut, “All The Love I Thought I Had” and the companies—RCA MCA and A&M Records, judged the thunderous first single, “I Enjoy Ya,” an up-tempo song for the contest. The radio station deemed the 7th Wonder “the most ladies. With the smash hit single, “Tilt,” 7th Wonder gained talented band [we] ever heard in the battle.” The annual “ national attention, including an appearance in 1980 on the Battle of the Bands” contest was the precursor to today’s CityFest Jubilee. popular television show, Soul Train. Three original members, Wilbert, Deborah and Oscar, left 7th Wonder was one of the South’s hottest touring bands for more than 15 years. When they went on the road after releas- the group in 1985. 7th Wonder reorganized and continued to ing “Thunder,” the Oasis Horns, featuring Bill perform along the eastern and southern coasts in cities in Butler on trumpet, Lloyd Oby on trombone and Alonzo Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana through East Coast Entertainment of Richmond, Virginia, and Greer Bowens on saxophone, all from Louisiana, joined Doug Entertainment of Atlanta, Georgia. them and made Tuskegee their Iulus Eaves Chislom In 1990, another founding member home. After a short stint with the and bass player, Jerome, left the group, Bowens left and Jimmy group and moved his family to McElroy of Phoenix, Arizona Columbus , G eorgia. A fter joined the horn section. The several temporary bass players, group performed with various including Darryl Jones, former renowned artists, including member of the Mean Machine the hometown group, the with the Commodores, Tyrone Commodores, Teddy PenderStanton of the Commodores, grass, Stephanie Mills, Jerome Temple, Michael Sinclair Rufus, the O’Jays, Al Green, and Glen Watson, Doug Eaves of Maze featuring Frankie Tuskegee joined 7th Wonder in 2000 Beverly, LTD, Brick, SOS, Johnnie ConFunkShun, War, Kool and the Hammon as bass player. The Oasis Horns also left the group and Larry Oates of Gang, Whispers, Lakeside and Muscle Shoals, Alabama was brought Larry Graham and Graham in on horns. Central Station. The breakups, along with false At the end of WG’s contract promises by many in the industry, Larry with the group, 7th Wonder wrote, Allen Oates negatively impacted 7th Wonder over the years; arranged and produced the single, Marvin Williams however, three diehard original members—Iulus, “She’s My Girl,” on their label, T-Town Patton Records, in 1983, with assistance from Steve Myers of Marvin and Allen--have kept the band going. They are Tuskegee’s WBIL radio. Throughout the southeast, Black completing a variety compact disk, including gospel, reggae, Radio reported this single as a hit, however, without a major light rock and country. They perform every chance they get label and with limited distribution funds, the wide success of throughout the Southeast, doing “old and new school” sounds. To book 7th Wonder, call (334) 332-0473. the single was suppressed. In 1983, 7th Wonder won first place in the annual “Battle of the Bands” contest on Armed Forces Day sponsored by 24
The Tuskegee University Choir Spiritual Music Preservationists
hen Booker T. Washington created The Tuskegee Quartet in 1884, he planted seeds that would ultimately blossom into a national treasure. The Tuskegee University Choir was created in 1886 and for more than a century it has brought together talented students performing under the auspices of masterful composers and directors. The choir has graced stages near and far, always staying true to Washington’s mandate to sing the African American spirituals. The current Tuskegee University Choir Director is Dr. Wayne Anthony Barr who has been in the position since 2001. He has travelled internationally with the choir but says some of his best memories have happened close to home. “Like the time we visited an elementary school in Union Springs, the kids are so enthralled.” Tuskegee University students who are interested in joining must audition and according to Dr. Barr the most essential skill is “the ability to match pitch.” He describes the choir, which now consists of 60 members as, “a body of students who love music. They love to sing.” In spite of their prior experience or passion for singing,
By: Karin Hopkins
Dr. Barr says spirituals are new to most aspiring choir members. “For them it’s quite a learning experience. A lot of churches today are not singing the spirituals so when they come I guess they expect a lot of gospel. They expect what they’ve done back at home. Then they are exposed to the spirituals, the sacred anthems and the way of singing, this style of singing. I would say it [the choir] is a group of students who love to sing and are serious about the music that they sing, students who have gained an appreciation for this repertoire.” This aspect of the interview with the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide triggered questions about the difference between spirituals and gospel. Dr. Barr provided historical perspective saying, “Spirituals were created during slavery. Gospel music was created afterwards. Spirituals were communal. There’s no one person you can point to and say this person created this. The gospel music comes out of that spiritual environment but it’s more of an individual creation. It also involves instruments so the melodies and harmonies are actually influenced by those instruments. Spirituals were not originally harmonized.
They were just melodies that were sung and whatever harmony happened was a matter of coincidence really and a matter of singing.” Continuing to point out distinctions between the musical genres, Dr. Barr said, “There is no one way to sing it [spirituals]. Each time you sing it it’s different based on the number of people there and the individuals present. Gospel music is created for a performing group. Spirituals— everyone can sing. Gospel as it has developed has come to distinguish the congregation from the choir.”
Dr. Barr sitting at the Rodgers Digital Pipe Organ
Dr. Barr earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan, where his dissertation topic was The History of the Pipe Organ in Black Churches in the United States. He also earned a Master’s degree in Sacred Music from Southern Methodist University and a second Master’s in Choral Conducting from this same institution. He holds an undergraduate degree from Westminster Choir College. While he talked about his life including his childhood background, it was easy to understand how he became so attached to spiritual music. “This is what I grew up listening to. It’s what I grew up singing.” Surprisingly, Dr. Barr is from South America. He says he also heard the indigenous folk songs of his native country, Guyana. “For some reason the spirituals just resonated with me.” Dr. Barr was a fan of the choir long before he became its director. While living in Michigan he stumbled across a recording of the Tuskegee Institute Choir produced by the former choir director William Dawson, who was also a world-renowned composer and conductor. During the Dawson Era, the choir performed in New York at Radio City Music Hall, in Washington, DC at Constitution Hall and the White House and on many national radio and television programs. Under the leadership of the esteemed William Dawson, prestigious invitations were extended to the Tuskegee University Choir requiring extensive traveling in this country and abroad. 26
This trend has continued with many performances at national and international venues including at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994 and in the East Room of the White House in 1997. “Since I’ve been here, a portion of the choir was able to go to Spain during the Christmas 2009 season to perform a series of concerts there.” Dr. Barr says. He said various factors have prevented the choir from traveling for two years but he is optimistic about the future. “I am hoping that there are various elements being put in place right now so it will be an annual expectation that the choir will go on tour.” He is planning a trip to New York for a choir performance at Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall in March 2012. National and global travel is special but equally important are the vesper services and campus events that involve the Tuskegee University Choir. Dr. Barr says “Our annual Christmas concert is the first Sunday evening in December. The Annual Dawson Institute Concert and Lecture is the first Saturday of April in conjunction with our Founder’s Day Weekend. We invite choirs from other HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], to join us for that day. We celebrate Dawson and we ask each choir to sing at least one Dawson selection and not just the spirituals but also other sacred and folk music.” Following a long line of choir directors, Dr. Barr is now the guardian of this precious legacy. It is rewarding to him in many ways especially when students become inspired. He says several former members are either pursuing or engaged in work that is a spinoff from their time with the choir. He cites as an example, an opera study program in Italy founded by an alumna who returned to the campus at Dr. Barr’s invitation. During that first visit she chose some students for her program. “Now this is an annual thing for her to come and hear students for possible selection. They get a chance to go and study with an established opera singer and [opera] coach.” The essence of the spirituals has a soul-stirring visual adaptation in the Tuskegee University Chapel. A magnificent display of stained glass windows covers a large “The Singing Windows” section of wall space in the chapel’s vestibule. Called the Singing Windows, the beautiful artwork represents 11 spiritual songs that were favorites of Booker T. Washington and his successor Robert R. Moton.
TUSKEGEE’S CONNECTION TO THE
“Shoop Shoop Song”
Tillotson, Juanita Tucker and Rosie “Tootsie” Addison, Rose Kelley (Washington) The Opals Myra is not included in this photo
In 1956, when Rose Kelley (Washington) was just eight years old, her family moved from Creek Stand, Alabama in Macon County to East Chicago, Indiana. Fast-forward to today and her life has made a full circle turn. She is once again living in Macon County, working at RBC Bank in Tuskegee. To the outside world she is the epitome of administrative efficiency. To those who know her well, she is R&B history. She is in the encyclopedia of Classic Soul as a member of The Opals. During her glory days in the entertainment industry, she rubbed shoulders with Jerry Butler, The Dells, Curtis Mayfield, Gene Chandler “the Duke of Earl” and Major Lance. Her vocal skills were discovered almost by accident. “I really didn’t know I could sing until my great-uncle heard me sing in church and told my mom and dad, ‘That daughter of yours can really sing’ and they were so in awe, they started coming to church on Children’s Day and they discovered I had a little talent.” She recalls that her professional singing career began in 1963, when a friend from her church connected her with two other teenaged girls, Myra Tillotson and Rosie “Tootsie” Addison. She said the friend, “heard me sing at church and she knew they were trying to form a group. She asked them if they would mind me joining them, so I met with them and we rehearsed and that was it. When we first got together, a guy by the name of Maurice Rogers was managing us and he came up with the name Opal. Back in the 60’s, it was music… it was good music in the 60’s.” The Opals were 16 years old when they got started and just like other girl groups of that era, they admired the Supremes. She remembers their breakthrough moment was
By: Noah Hopkins
supremely unglamorous. “We were there at Steve’s Chicken Shack on 25th Avenue in Gary, Indiana and Mickey McGill heard us sing.” He said, “These girls are too young to be in here in this chicken shack.” Mickey was a big time entertainer, a member of the chart-topping R&B ensemble, The Dells. He introduced the girls to two major music industry insiders, Calvin Carter and Carl Davis. This led to the girls’ participation on a big hit record. They provided background vocals to the “Shoop Shoop Song, It's In His Kiss” recorded by Betty Everett in 1963. Carl Davis put The Opals with Curtis Mayfield who wrote a song for them titled “You Can’t Hurt Me No More.” Rose Kelley was lead vocalist. According to published reports, this was one of the first records that joined the writing skills of Curtis with the arranging of Johnny Pate. Rose talked about the financial aspect of The Opals career. “We made some money but the majority of the money came from backgrounding other artists and we did a lot of that. That’s what we did throughout the Chicagoland area. We backgrounded Gene Chandler, Major Lance, Walter Jackson and of course the ‘Shoop, Shoop’ Song with Betty Davis… not Betty Davis… Lord help me…Betty you talking about me,..Betty Everrett, the “Shoop, Shoop Song, It's In His Kiss” in '63 that was one of our favorites.” The Opals stayed together for about 10 years. Nowadays, her former career is a distant memory that she rarely discusses with friends or relatives. “Well, it’s funny because I really don’t talk that much about it but when they hear about it they question me about it. I tell them I got started young, we went out on the road. We went all over. I enjoyed doing it but you know how it is with a group of women, sometimes things happen and you just go your separate Myra, Rose and “Tootsie” ways.” However, the idea of a reunion was discussed during the interview with the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide, “We thought about it and we are really trying for 2012 to get together and do something. We had talked about a grand reunion, hopefully we can get that going.” 27
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Tuskegee Repertory Theatre, Inc. Celebrates 20 Years
I loved Tuskegee and I really did not want to leave. But I also wanted to be a ballet dancer and since my father told me I had to go to college, I had to find a college where I could be a dance major; consequently I became the first African American to graduate as a dance major from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Only an environment like I had experienced in Tuskegee could have made the decision to become a ballet dancer by me, a little Black girl was encouraged by parents who felt that if my sister in Alabama in the early 60’s, possible. I was from a place Clintonia, who wanted to be a fashion designer, and I, who where, even though I was Black, anything and everything wanted to be a ballet dancer, had an education, and the will seemed possible. to achieve, we could do anything. This was the At the beginning of my career, I danced briefly in New prevailing sentiment here in our little historical Tuskegee York, then taught at Howard University where I began cocoon of Black achievement, where I creating my own performing opportunilived growing up. ties traveling with dancer Mike Malone The Tuskegee that I grew up in was as the Concert Ballet Duo and with my peopled and supported by a vibrant Chamber Dance Group. community of men and women I moved from Washington to dance as determined to build a positive place for a member of choreographer Billy themselves in a segregated world. We had Wilson’s dance company in Boston but it the third largest VA hospital in the was actually in 1972 that my dream of country and Tuskegee Institute that was creating a theatre company in Tuskegee an integral part of the Negro community. was born, the same year that my Those two entities were the basis for job hometown achieved another historic first opportunities on all levels in the Negro by electing my classmate, Johnny Ford, community because everybody who the city’s first African American mayor. worked for them lived in the community. In that year, I was embarking on a As young people we would joke that if journey that I thought would mark the you came from Tuskegee you had to go to beginning of my dancing career in college or learn some skill or special Europe, but actually was the beginning of Dyann Robinson trade, because we didn’t have any factories my journey back home to the theatrical to work in. We were surrounded by professional people: career for which I was destined. That year, I crossed the seas, teachers, doctors, lawyers, skilled tradesmen, plumbers, electo join an internationally famous ballet company based in tricians, printers, cooks, nurses, all trained at or Brussels, Belgium called The Ballet of the Twentieth working for Tuskegee Institute or the VA. Century, directed by the French choreographer, Maurice BeWe had private business men and women who owned jart. I wanted to perform as a classical ballet dancer, and the construction businesses, grocery and retail stores, cleaners, opportunities for that in America were virtually nonservice stations etc. all in the Negro community. We had civil existent for me on the level that I envisioned. rights leaders like Gomillion and Mitchell and organizations My experience with Bejart’s hugely popular company was like the Tuskegee Civic Association. Mr. Aubrey Page made wonderful. We danced in Europe, in Israel and even all kinds of theatre come to life at the VA and in the commuperformed at Madison Square Garden in New York City. But nity. All kinds of performing artists and groups came to the after a year I decided to leave the company. For one thing I campus to perform in Logan Hall, where we could also go did not want to become an artist living as an swimming in the summer time. Tuskegee American expatriate in Europe, but most importantly beInstitute High School played our games in the institute cause, as I told Mr. Bejart, I did not want to be a member of stadium. We were the proud Baby Tigers. his company; I wanted to be “him.” 29 Publisher’s Note: The State of Alabama declared 2011 the Year of Music. This coincides with the milestone 20th anniversary of the Tuskegee Repertory Theatre (TRT). For this reason we are publishing an edited version of an essay written by Dyann Robinson about her performing arts sanctuary. For two decades, the TRT has entertained and enlightened audiences through inspiring stories stoked by dance and music.
I too wanted to have a company that I could use to create dance theatre and also I wanted to work with other African American artists. I came back to America to work with my former mentor, dancer/choreographer Billy Wilson, a brilliant African American dancer who had been a lead dancer with the National Ballet of Holland but who also had returned home to dance in America. I went with him when he left Elma Lewis’s Dance Company of the National Center of African American Artists to form the Dance Theatre of Boston and when he was engaged as choreographer for what became the Broadway hit “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” I went with him as his assistant and as a dancer in the original cast of the show, which toured for 10 months and played Broadway for two and a half years. When the Broadway show closed I began working with Billy Wilson restaging the show for tours in the US and in Europe but home was calling me. I still wanted my own company and I wanted it in my hometown. I started asking my parents to look out for a place where I could teach dance. I thought that maybe one of the old historical houses in downtown Tuskegee could be converted into a school. I knew that would be wonderful because now I felt, we had reached a new pinnacle: we had an African American mayor. Not only that, he was my classmate, Johnny Ford who when I was visiting home one Christmas, at a Tuskegee Institute High School Class of 1960 Christmas party, encouraged me to come on home to bring my talents and experience in theatre to our Tuskegee community. After I returned to New York, he suggested that I come and create a summer dance program within the City of Tuskegee Recreation Department, then under the direction of Mrs. Marty Swan. Well, the rest is history. In 1980, I came home and created a dance program that was incorporated into the City of Tuskegee Department of Recreation and later evolved into a full- fledged Department of Cultural Affairs, which flourished for nine years. Within the department, I developed the Tuskegee City Dance Theatre, where I trained dancers whom I ultimately featured in the City of Tuskegee’s production, (at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery), of “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” which I staged exactly as it had been staged on Broadway, but with a bigger cast and a larger orchestra. We broke the box office record for the new ASF and we were the first African American show ever presented there. The dancers, singers, actors and musicians were all from Tuskegee or trained for the show here in Tuskegee. I knew then that with the proper support, we could make theatre here in Tuskegee that could rival theatre produced anywhere. Unfortunately, that was not to be at the moment. The city of Tuskegee could no longer afford the Department of Cultural Affairs and it was closed. The director of the Theatre Department at Auburn University, Lois Garren, had
loaned us lights for our Tuskegee production of “Brown Sugar” in the new complex and she came to see what we were doing, and subsequently asked Mayor Ford if she could borrow me to teach a dance class in her department. When our Department of Cultural Affairs Department was closed, she asked me to come be a full time professor at Auburn, and I did. I began a career there as an assistant professor and then an associate professor, that included my creation (for my majority Caucasian students) of at least seven original dance drama productions and one full length dramatic play (all exploring the cultural legacy of the Black peoples of the world) and culminated in my being appointed the first scholar in residence in the Department of Theatre. But my dream to create my own company in Tuskegee had not died.
Tuskegee Repertory Theatre
In 1991, while still teaching at Auburn University, I founded Tuskegee Repertory Theatre, Inc. and began searching for a place for our new company to call home. In 1996, the downtown Post Office came up for auction. With the encouragement of friends and financial support from my mother Jessie Robinson and my deceased father Clinton Robinson, I bid on the property, to my shock, was the successful bidder. I named it the Jessie Clinton Arts Centre in honor of my parents, who had made my life in the arts possible, and declared it the home of the Tuskegee Repertory Theatre, Inc. Company and School. In 2005, I retired from Auburn so that Tuskegee Repertory Theatre could have my full focus. The Tuskegee Repertory Theatre and The Jessie Clinton Arts Centre is located at 201 South Main Street in Tuskegee. For more information, visit the TRT Web site at http://www.tuskegeerep.com, call (334) 7276046, 1 (866) TRTart9 or send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
onald McDowell is a gifted artist whose paintings and sculptures often convey a lifelike quality. His work is collected by art lovers from all walks of life including many celebrities. Cities and towns also commission him to produce public art. He created a life-size bronze statue of *Eddie Kendrick flanked by the other members of the legendary Temptations, which stands in downtown Birmingham. The group appears to be performing the smooth choreography that matched so well with their Motown classics. McDowell also artistically captured Michael Jackson on canvas and McDowell’s artwork is on the cover of Jackson’s greatest selling album “Thriller.” He painted a collage of several iconic historical figures, connecting all to President Barack Obama. This prolific artist says his masterpieces are divinely inspired. “I honor the gift God gave me," McDowell said. "This isn't about me... I'm [being used] to tell a story of a time, a place and a people." *Though Eddie James Kendrick was raised in Birmingham, he was born December 17, 1939 in Union Springs, Alabama. At some point, an “s” was added to the spelling of his last name and most people know him as Eddie Kendricks.
An Artistic Genius
By: Karin Hopkins
things well. Her reasoning was that she didn't want us to be totally dependent on a job for all of our lives. Each of my sisters complemented their lives with crafts and other interest. I didn't have the interest or desire to be creative By: Karin Hopkins une Fountain can add a burst of until I was faced with the possibility of losing my soul mate. color and sparkle to any The days became very long. While accompanying him to woman’s clothing. She is a his chemo treatments, I needed something to keep me jewelry designer who specializes occupied. I started off making just a necklace. Before long, I fell in love with the brilliance of crystals and the beauty of in clever and classy pieces. gemstones. Before long I was creating stylish gemstone and She taught herself the art of jewelry making. It was therapy during a tough time in her crystal, and collecting vintage jewelry. It’s jewelry that can be worn throughout the year and passed on to future life. Her husband Millage H. Fountain had dreamed of generations.” moving to Macon County for their retirement and living a serene life. In 2002, as they were preparing to relocate from Atlanta, he was diagnosed with cancer. While they fought for his survival, the disease often sapped his strength. This is when she began making jewelry. In 2005, her husband died. What had been therapy is now a business. June Fountain established Touch of Crystal to sell jewelry to her ever-expanding client base. Even though tragic circumstances led her to unleash her creative flair, it was a direction she had been pointed Visit www.touchofcrystal.net to see June Fountain’s jewelry. towards her entire life. “My mother always encouraged her daughters to be creative and to know how to do several 31
By: Noah Hopkins
n the beginning it was three brothers singing acapella in church, then their mother bought them a guitar. “This was God’s gift,” said Christopher, one of the three Clark Brothers (he plays lead guitar). “We started fumbling around with it and were able to play for ourselves.” Victor, another one of the brothers plays drums and the third brother Anthony plays bass and they all sing. The Clark Brothers started singing when Christopher was about five years old at church, family and community functions. They got to a point where they wanted to start their own group. “We had time to practice at home” Christopher said, “because our mother was the minister of music and played piano at our church. And before my father passed, he sang with a local group here in Tuskegee called the Pilgrim Travelers.” The brothers picked up a lot from their parents. They went to their rehearsals and would even sit in but they wanted to do their own thing. They wanted their own sound so they started adding members to the group. Their biggest problem was transportation and equipment, a problem that many people face when starting a group.
Even though the group has been together since 1982, “We are a work in progress” says Chris, “We listen to different things that we did years ago you know and we say, is that us? We love how the music has matured. Our voices have matured. The message has matured. Settling down at a different level spiritually and everything takes on a different meaning because you have been through something.” With gospel music, like anything else, there is a business end but there is also a spiritual end when dealing with promoters. They say they have met people from all walks of life; some are in it for the right reason and some are questionable. Chris said, “You go to some venues and may not get what’s promised but you know, God has always kept us because we have never been in a situation where we couldn’t get back home because God has always provided for us to take care of our own.” Marketing and promotions are critical to musicians and Chris says, “The best promoters we have are ourselves. We promote a lot on the Internet, but our live
The Clark Brothers performing at the 2009 All Macon County Day Celebration
performances sell us more than anything.” The Clark Brothers have performed in Windsor, Ontario in Canada for Independence Day, The Bay Fest in Mobile, at Disney World in Orlando, in New Orleans and Baton Rouge as well as at events and venues in Macon County. The Clark Brothers deliver a powerful performance with vocalists backed by a full band consisting of guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. During the interview with the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide, Chris talked about the close bond that has held the group together. “We have a brotherhood, we have been around so long, even though a lot of the guys are not brothers we still have that chemistry. I think that’s why we have been around so long.” Check out the Clark Brothers Web site: email@example.com
The Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, l ocated on the historic campus of Tuskegee University, is a full-service hotel facility. The southern grandeur of the past and the stately Georgian architecture of the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center are blended together to offer state-of -the-art services and first-class accommodations, ranging from double sleeping rooms to elegant suites. Additional amenities include an indoor heated swimming pool, a fitness center, a full service restaurant, an on-site gift shop, and 17,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes a 300-seat auditorium.
J a z z A l l e y featuring L i v e J a z z every Friday evening for Happy Hour in the KCC Lounge
By: Noah Hopkins
HE HILLBILLY MALL is a unique, interesting combination of antique store, flea market and art gallery all wrapped in one. Owned by “Big John” and Carol Richardson, THE HILLBILLY MALL is stocked from floor to ceiling with woodcrafts and collectibles. Many of these items are one of a kind. The Richardson’s work together running the business and also creating stunning artwork. Big John’s specialty is woodcarving, wooden sign making and creating other customized items that are made of wood. Carol adds the finishing touch with her delicate but beautiful
Carol showing some of her unique panting
Big John” and Carol Richardson
paintings of flowers and birds that look stunningly life like. The couple’s long-range plans for THE HILLBILLY MALL include an artist colony with 20 to 30 small buildings all made out of recycled material, each a different shape with different artists demonstrating their talents, even a blacksmith. They expect the concept to attract tourists and locals including school children with everyone learning about how things were done in the past. Also, they plan to have a general store with the look and feel of yesteryear, selling things folks once bought at 1950’s era country stores such as; bologna and cheese, potted meat, sow’s meat and twenty-five cents Coca-Cola. Big John says, “We are not going to make a lot of profit, it’s just gonna’ be a calling card to help attract people.” Another dream is to use the property for a festival like the annual “Syrup Soppin Day” in nearby Loachapoka, a small community that borders Macon County. During the interview with the Macon County Tourism Resource Guide, Big John explained how THE HILLBILLY MALL got its name. “Well, we toyed over Rusty Nail, my wife wanted
something…when people come…because we sell a lot of old stuff, we toyed and we toyed and one night I went to North Carolina and there was a place up there that was called the Hillbilly Mall, so in my mind I was thinking that the Hillbilly Mall would pull folks off of the Interstate a little bit more than a name like the Rusty Nail. So really, that’s how I came about the Hillbilly Mall and I am a little bit Hillbilly too even though I live in the South, you know, I’ve got a bloodhound that’s gonna’ be getting married May 14th and so, you don’t get more hillbilly than that.” Big John said he has been in woodworking for more than 30 years. However, during an interview a while back at a trade show, his 94-year old mother had a different time frame. “Well, ya know, he built the house he was born in.”
Fish sculpture at the Hillbilly Mall
The Hillbilly Mall is located at 8870 U.S. Highway 80 East in rural Tuskegee – Hours Friday and Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 1pm to 5pm. (334) 727-6476
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Golden Eagle Aviation Rejuvenating Tuskegee’s spirit of aviation MOTON FIELD WELCOMES
rowing up in Tuskegee, Alabama, at a time when the Tuskegee Airmen trained at Moton Field Municipal Airport (06A) during World War II, Dr. Bill Winston took his first ride in a Piper Cub. As the nose of the aircraft headed toward the clouds, “I knew that this was one of the things that I was supposed to do in life.” The same pilot that trained the Tuskegee Airmen, Alfred “Chief” Anderson, trained Winston who then went on to serve seven years in the Air Force flying F-4 Phantom jets in numerous combat missions in Vietnam and receiving numerous awards for his superior flight skills and competitions, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He still holds his commercial license. But after he returned to his hometown and saw the economic trauma that it was in, he decided to use his pilot expertise to spearhead Golden Eagle Aviation, an FBO. His mission is to revitalize Tuskegee by providing employment for potentially hundreds of workers. Winston says when he was young, the Army airbase in Tuskegee employed 15,000 people and it was the largest payroll of African-Americans in the world. “I’ve seen
the city flourish and if we can start a wave of new economic growth, we can help rebuild the city.” The Tuskegee Airmen were determined men who enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen. 06A was originally the only primary flight-training facility for African-American pilot candidates during World War II. It was named after Robert Russa Moton, the second president of the Tuskegee Institute. Pilots who passed the initial training at 06A were then transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field for advanced education and assignments. From 1941 through 1946, 996 pilots graduated at TAAF, receiving commissions and pilot wings. Winston’s total plan includes not just creating jobs, but providing training for the Tuskegee workforce so that they can fill the jobs as they come available. Golden Eagle Aviation will have an aviation maintenance academy (Part 127 and 145 certified) to train maintenance workers and a flight training academy. Winston wants to expand this division to
generate at least 15 to 100 jobs and then move into phase two, which is cargo. He expects to have over two hundred employees with the expansion. As of now, the FBO provides aircraft detailing, maintenance, and fuel and oil services. It has a pilot’s lounge, Internet access and conference rooms to complement 06A’s 5,000foot runway. The runway is freshly flanked with new lights and Winston is working on extending the runway by 2,000 feet. Golden Eagle is 06A’s sole FBO. It took off in March 2009, operating out of a temporary facility, but still focusing on growth and great service. By the end of the year, Golden Eagle will have two rows of T-hangers accommodating a total of 10 aircraft. In March, it will move into its brand new facility, which complements the other historical aspects of the airport. The airport houses its own museum that people fly in from all over the world to see, the Tuskegee Airmen National Center. The center honors the men’s service and preserves their history. Winston grew up with many of the Tuskegee Airmen like Chappie James and his son. He continuously reflects back on his rich childhood experiences to derive a plan for young aspiring pilots. He wants to give other young minorities an opportunity to learn to fly during summer breaks. “We will bring them here for two weeks and have them do nothing but fly to help put minorities in the cockpit and do our jobs in 40
terms of rebuilding the legacy of this place,” says Winston. “In my youth I saw how much of an economic engine Moton Field was. The first thing I thought of to empower the city of Tuskegee was aviation. This is such a historic place for flying and we are going to continue the legacy.” Winston is not only revitalizing Tuskegee, but other areas as well through his numerous affiliations. Winston is also the founder and president of the Joseph Business School, which has opened new locations throughout the U.S. and in other countries; The Joseph Center Vocational Training Program, whose mission is to train people in specialized job skills for high paying and in demand occupations; chairman of the board of Covenant Bank; and president of New Covenant Community Development Corporation, whose mission is to revitalize communities spiritually and economically.
For more information, call 334-727-6485.
Used and excerpted with permission from The AutoPilot Magazine Southeast edition. Written by: Rhonda Barnett
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ollow the visitor center signs to downtown Tuskegee and find the “official visitor center” for the city of Tuskegee, and for Macon County. From historic buildings and
notable people to recreational activities and the great outdoors, you’ll find it all showcased at the visitor center. While you’re there, be sure to check out the gift shop for a great sampling of a variety of items, art, books, souvenirs, and locally-made products. Before Booker T. Washington lifted the veil of ignorance, Tuskegee and Macon County were an important part of many historic moments that have made America the country that it is today – Creek Indian War…American Slavery…the Civil War… Reconstruction…Jim Crow Era…World Wars…and Civil Rights.
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NOW OFFERING THE FOLLOWING SERVICES:
340B Pharmacy On-site CARE Ambulance Services Preventa've Screenings Family Planning Diabetes Collabora've Health Outreach X-rays
Tuskegee Health Center 203 West Lee Street Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 334-727-6880 Hours of Opera'ons M-F: 8:00am to 7:00pm Sat: 9:00am to 3:00pm
Central Care Pharmacy
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Nutri'on Counseling Cervical Cancer Screenings Dental Services Specialty Care Referrals Chronic Illness Treatment Immuniza'ons
203 West Lee Street Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 334-727-6880 Hours of Opera'ons T-F: 8:00am to 5:00pm
Hurtsboro Medical Center 242 Long Street Hurtsboro, Alabama 36860 334-667-7734 Hours of Opera'ons M &W: 8:00am to 5:00pm
Central Care Pharmacy
203 West Lee Street Tuskegee, Alabama 36083 334-727-7636 Hours of Opera'ons M-F: 9:00am to 6:00pm
Lafaye(e Health Center 404-B Ninth Avenue SW Lafayee, Alabama 36862 334-864-0084 Hours of Opera'ons Friday: 8:00am to 5:00pm
Published on Jun 28, 2011