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Submitted PhotoThe famed Spaniels, a group that originated with crooner Pookie Hudson in Gary, Ind., will be one of three remarkable Doo Wop groups which will cap Juneteenth Day June 17 at Westlake High School in Waldorf.
The first part is the free annual Celebrations program sponsored by the Black Leadership Council for Excellence with support from National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland Traditions, Charles County Arts Alliance, and Charles County Public Schools.
Opening the festivities will be a Juneteenth parade starting at 11 a.m. beginning at the Food Lion on Smallwood and St. Patrick's.
Participating in the parade will be Black cowboys on their horses, local chapters of the Tau Lambda Lambda chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Pumphrey High Steppers.
When the parade arrives at the high school, a new-this-year youth stage will offer up and coming stars of the rap and hip hop music industry bringing special messages to the young people in the community.
Alashus, 18, is Black Entertainment Network's Teen Forum Artist. A native of Fredericksburg, Va., the young but seasoned performer is an official member of the BET Rap-It-Up Road Tour.
According to BET's Web site, “RAP-IT-UP is BET's call to action, a grassroots HIV⁄AIDS awareness campaign designed to address the epidemic in the African American community. RAP-IT-UP seeks to help African American youth and families protect against HIV⁄AIDS related illnesses and diminish the incidences of HIV⁄AIDS.“
Hip Hop sensations Harlem X will also perform their newest music with messages against violence. The young New York brothers have traveled extensively, including tours in Washington, D.C.
The performances are part of the support from the Charles County Health Department's health promotions and education division.
From noon-1 p.m., other activities at the Juneteenth Day festivities will include a health outreach as well as a blood drive sponsored by the Red Cross and the Tau Lambda Lambda Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Food vendors will have barbeque, fried fish, watermelon, red soda pop and more.
Mona Wilson, the Zydeco Queen, will dance up a storm. Other performers will include Roy Carrier and the Zydeco Night Riders; the Not Yet Gospel Ensemble, a reformulation of the former group Enunity; the Kobe S.O.G. Ghanaian Highlife, which will perform Ghanaian gospel, a mixture of West African rhythms and sacred songs; Nubian Hand Dancers from Washington, D.C.; the Pumphrey High Steppers; Dehconte, a Liberian musician and composer of the album “Liberian Liberty,“ who will perform sacred drumming; and Texas Fred The Zydeco Cowboy of WPFW-FM radio.
As if a full day of music, food and fun were not enough, a trio of spectacular Doo Wop groups will cap off the evening when the Orioles, the Jewels and Pookie Hudson's Spaniels take the stage at 6:30 p.m. in the Westlake auditorium. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Hudson, who wrote “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight,“ formed the original group in the early 1950s when the singers were still in high school in Gary, Ind. The current group originated in Washington, D.C., according to www.destinationdoowop.com, and continued as back ups for Hudson until his death in January.
Another local group which made a wide circuit at the height of Rhythm and Blues and Doo Wop are the orioles. Originating from Baltimore, the group was first led by Sonny Til and were influenced by the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots, according to the group's press releases. Their first multi-million seller was “Crying in the Chapel.“
The crown jewels in the show are ... The Jewels, originating out of Roosevelt High School and discovered by Bo Didley. Their hit “Opportunity“ was listed on “Billboard“ for 11 weeks, according to their press release, and an appearance at the Apollo Theatre in New York earned them the attention of none other than James Brown.
All of the groups appearing throughout the day took a long time to gather, according to BLCE development director Hassan Adeeb, but it sound hard — like reviewing restaurants.
“We find the groups by attending other festivals which take place between Baltimore and Richmond,“ Adeeb said. “That's how we make our contacts. For example, we met Dehconte at a festival at the Liberian Embassy. Not only are we having fun but we take care of a little business, too.“
So have fun and take care of a little business yourself while celebrating Juneteenth Day at Westlake High School in Waldorf. Who knows — maybe you'll make some important contacts, too.