Claflin alumni hold jazz luncheon | News | The Press and Standard

by | November 12, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: November 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm

By Anna Stevens Bright
Photographs by Herman G. Bright

Recently, the Ray T. Johnson/CTS Building was bustling with “All That Jazz,” from the Claflin University Jazz Combo, directed by Vincent Chandler, as well as other local music artists. The annual luncheon was hosted by the Colleton County Chapter of Claflin University International Alumni Association Inc.
Gloria Breland served as the mistress of ceremonies, led the prayer and the blessing of the food. Priscilla McClellan extended the welcome, followed by greetings from Zelda Lee, director of alumni relations at Claflin University.
The Jazz Combo performed a two-part concert with a variety of selections and solos by individual members. The highlight of their performances was the “Scat singing” by Director Chandler. “Scat singing” is a difficult technique that requires singers to perform improvised melodies and rhythms using the voice as an instrument rather than a speaking medium.
Anna Bright, an alumni of Claflin University and currently an educator in the Colleton County School District, entertained the crowd with a vocal rendition of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.
Taking the audience back to the 1950s era of jazz, Herman Bright, retired band director and school administrator, gave a clarinet rendition of Erroll Garner’s “Misty.”
John Cobb, former principal of Northside Elementary School, performed a jazz version of gospel artist Smokey Norful’s “Praise is What I Do,” and also performed a selection with the Jazz Combo.
Claflin University’s Associate Vice-President Veronica Cohen, representing the Office of Major and Planned Gifts, also brought greetings to the attendees. She explained Claflin’s FOCUS 100 program, which provides emergency funds to Claflin University students who need assistance purchasing books and supplies to assist them in attending college. The FOCUS 100 Student Fund was established in 2004, and has already given vital assistance to students who, through no fault of their own, cannot afford some or all of their books, tuition fees, housing or are unexpectedly confronted with a financial emergency. The average size of FOCUS 100 Scholarship Fund award is $600 per student. Any alumni, friend or business wishing to donate to this fund may contact the local chapter or Vice-President Cohen at Claflin University.
During the luncheon, a meal was served by Smalls Catering, owned by Calvert and Tonya Smalls. Door prizes donated by members of the local chapter were given away at various intervals of the program.
Officers of the Colleton County Chapter are President, Priscilla McClellan; Vice-President, Anna Bright; Secretary, Raul Bradley; Treasurer, Thelma Hudson; and Chaplain, Vera Bodison.
Dr. Thomas Pearson, Walterboro District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church, also attended.
Claflin University is located in Orangeburg. Dr. Henry N. Tisdale is presently serving in his 23rd year as president. A 1965 magna cum laude graduate of the university, he is the institution’s eighth president.
Claflin University was founded in 1869 and named in honor of Lee Claflin, a prominent Methodist layman from Boston, and his son William Claflin, then governor of Massachusetts.
The Colleton County Chapter of CUIAA, Inc. is already planning for next year’s jazz luncheon in September 2017. Proceeds from this event will support Claflin University. Any alumni wishing to become a member may contact any of the officers or other members.

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