The Academy Center of the Arts has announced Mavis Staples, Grammy award-winning R&B-gospel singer and civil rights activist, as the headlining artist the first event of the Historic Academy of Music Theatre’s Opening Week Activities on Thursday, December 6, 2018, at 7:30pm.
“The evening will celebrate the integration of the Historic Academy of Music theatre, a space that was previously segregated when it closed in 1958,” said Geoffrey Kershner, Executive Director of the Academy Center of the Arts. “We chose Mavis Staples as our headlining artist for this event because of her significant accomplishments as a civil rights activist and her continuing efforts to serve as a positive force for social equity”.
Mavis Staples began singing with her family, The Staple Singers, in Chicago in the 1940s, later performing in Montgomery, Alabama for none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. Lauded as one of the greatest gospel singers of all time, her powerful voice has underscored some of the United States most pivotal and dramatic periods of social change, weaving herself into the very fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock, and hip hop over the last 60 years.
Mavis Staples is both a Rock and Roll and a Blues Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient, and a Kennedy Center Honoree. Rolling Stone listed her as one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Her album, You Are Not Alone, won the Grammy for Best Americana Album in 2011; in 2016 she won Best American Roots Performance for her song “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” In 2015, Mavis was awarded the Woody Guthrie Prize, given to the artist who best exemplifies the spirit and life work of Woody Guthrie by speaking for the less fortunate and pushing for social change in America. She continues this legacy in her latest album, ‘If All I Was Was Black’, her creative response to recent events.
Devon Gilfillian, rising Capital Records blues artist, will open for Staples. The Diamond Hill Baptist Church choirs will perform a selection of songs to celebrate and acknowledge the occasion of the theatre’s first night being an integrated space.
Emcee Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut and community member, will kick off the December 6th event by recognizing the contributions of community members who have made invaluable contributions to arts and culture in Lynchburg by presenting three community awards, the Lottie Payne Stratton Award, and two Academy Cultural Impact Awards.
“The Academy and the arts community is indebted to the efforts of black leaders and artists,” said Evan Smith, Director of Community Outreach at the Academy Center of the Arts. “We want to ensure that the cultural contributions of past and present community members would not be forgotten so that present and future generations would know who paved the way.”
Award recipients include Anne Spencer, Reverend Haywood Robinson Jr., and Michelline Hall.
Anne Spencer will be posthumously recognized with the “Academy Cultural Impact” award for her contributions as a renowned Harlem Renaissance poet, community activist, and librarian for the formerly all-black Dunbar High School.
Reverend Haywood Robinson Jr. will be posthumously recognized with the “Academy Cultural Impact” award for his efforts as an esteemed community leader and for his vision for the Academy as an inclusive center of expression for all.
Michelline Hall will be recognized with the “Lottie Payne Stratton” award for continued behind-the-scenes dedication to the Lynchburg community as a photographer, arts instructor, and advocate for accessible arts programming for youth.
“The Historic Theatre’s history invokes memories of a thriving arts community in the early 1900s, which we plan to bring into the present day,” said Smith. “However, we must also remember the theatre’s past as a segregated space during Jim Crow, which relegated black citizens to the second balcony and forced entry into the facility from a side door. The Academy hopes to both celebrate the Opening of the space while also remembering and bringing to light the history which motivates us to strive towards an accessible theatre for all.”
The Academy’s Opening Week of activities include a wide range of offerings and price point options to ensure that the gift of this restored theatre can be shared with as many in our community as possible.
Tickets to Opening Week events and performances are on sale at academycenter.org or at the Box Office, located at 519 Commerce St. and by phone at (434) 846-8499. Limited tickets will be available for each event.
Opening week events are supported by Cary & Robert Roberts, Jill & John Fees, Foster Fuels, Baird, WSET ABC-13, WVTF Music / Radio IQ, Watts Creative Studios, Vistagraphics, and other community partners.
For more information, contact our Box Office at (434) 846-8499.
Historic Academy of Music Theatre Opening Week Events
Academy Presents: “In Unison”: A Concert Event Featuring Mavis Staples and Devon Gilfillian
Celebrating the Integration of the Historic Academy of Music Theatre
Thursday, December 6, 2018 | 7:30PM | Tickets: $25 – 182
Holiday Movie Marathon
Saturday, December 8, 2018 | 10:00AM – 2:00AM | Tickets: $5.00 all day access, sold day of
- Mickey’s A Christmas Carol: 10am-10:30am (G)
- Frosty’s Winter Wonderland: 10:35am-11:05am (G)
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas: 11:10am-11:40am (G)
- Disney’s Frozen: 12pm-2pm (PG)
- Elf: 2:15pm-4:05pm (PG)
- It’s A Wonderful Life: 4:20pm-6:55pm (PG)
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: 7:10pm-9pm (PG-13)
- Love Actually: 9:15pm-11:50pm (R)
- Bad Santa: 12:05am-1:55am (R)
Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra Presents: There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays!
Sunday, December 9, 2018 | 4:00PM | Tickets: $25 – 36
A Legacy Celebration: A Showcase event featuring the Resident Companies of the Academy Center of the Arts
Resident companies include: Charlottesville Ballet, Endstation Theatre Company, Jefferson Choral Society, Opera on the James, and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 | 7:30pm | Tickets: $14 – 56
Academy Presents: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ Big Band Holidays
Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 7:30PM | Tickets: $72 – 282
Charlottesville Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Saturday, December 15, 2018 | 2:00PM & 7:00PM | Tickets: $15 – 75
Lynchburg Symphony Youth Orchestra Presents: Sounds of the Season
Sunday, December 16, 2018 | 3:00PM | Tickets: $10 – 16
Academy Presents: New Year’s Eve Bash featuring No BS! Brass and Apple Butter Soul
Monday, December 31, 2018 | 7:30PM | Tickets: $25 – 107
The Academy Center of the Arts, anchored by the historic Academy of Music Theatre, is greater Lynchburg’s multi-facility center for arts, culture, and community building, occupying 1.25 blocks on Main Street in downtown Lynchburg. The Academy Center of the Arts, previously known as the Academy of Fine Arts, was formed in 2003 from the merger of the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center and the Academy of Music Theatre, Inc. Built in 1905 and closed in 1958, the Theatre is one of the few surviving Beaux-Arts style theatres in Virginia. For more information, visit www.AcademyCenter.org.