23. Art and Morality

A Southern Lady

For some months after my mother Emily died, my thoughts and memories of her were mostly wrapped in tears. She taught me so much and so simply. Her lessons weren\’t intentional but easily acquired by observing her love of people and her general good nature. She was a sweet and gentle Southern lady, and she loved her friends.

Emily was from the small north Georgia town of Toccoa. She was never in a hurry and found her greatest delight in knowing you. Throughout her life she continued subscribing to her hometown newspaper The Toccoa Record and enjoyed keeping up with the weddings and the happenings back home.

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Intersections

My mother and her twin sister had mostly a quiet childhood in that small mountain town but for one occasion that provided an unusual perspective on their life story. Upon turning sixteen their parents gave them a sweet-sixteen birthday party. They invited their schoolmates and hired a local dance band for entertainment. The lead singer of group had been employed as a custodian at the school; his name was James Brown, and his group: The Famous Flames.

James Brown was little known at the time but would become one of the most famous singer / songwriters in history, with worldwide record sales exceeding 50 million. James Brown built his reputation as the Godfather of Soul and was the self-described hardest working man in show business.

In many ways, Brown\’s life was rough-cut. His mother abandoned him at an early age and his father sent him off to live with his aunt. Oddly enough, he spent much of his early childhood right here in my hometown of Augusta, GA, and it was here that he later returned to maintain his primary residence.

I remember well the few occasions we saw James Brown around town. I recall my mother easily approaching him and reminding him of the time he entertained at her sixteenth birthday party. I remember thinking of how vastly different were their lives but for that single, common experience of music.

Day 23 Guide

We are here for only a time. But our stories live on. Listen to the music and tell your story.

© 2009, Levi Hill

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