In the journey to find happiness, we face many obstacles that threaten to keep us from it.

In his book entitled “Nothing Pink,” author Mark Hardy describes one such journey set in 1970s Dry Fork at the foot of White Oak Mountain.

“‘Nothing Pink’ is a coming of age, coming out story, in which teenage Vincent, the son of a Southern fundamentalist preacher, reconciles the religion of his youth and his sexual orientation. It is also a romantic story of first love and a story of unconditional, family love,” Hardy said.

The novel, which explores the conflict between lead character Vincent’s traditional Christian upbringing and his inescapable feelings of attraction to love interest Robert, explores Vincent’s developing relationship with Robert juxtaposed against the relationships he has with his parents.

Hardy said he drew inspiration from multiple sources in writing Vincent’s story.

“Authors like Dorothy Allison, Leslie Feinman, James Baldwin, and Michael Cunningham, and, of course, Carolyn Coman, who told powerful, poignant, painful stories with astounding beauty and grace,” Hardy said. “There was also this unexplainable understanding that there was a story inside me that had to gestate and be birthed, or I would suffer somehow. Also the need to offer a story to youths, especially those struggling with religion and homosexuality, like the story I wanted and needed to read when I was a teenager myself.”

Hardy shared that “Nothing Pink” is closely connected to his own development.

“From the earliest writing, the protagonist of my novel was always based on me, always struggling with his sexual orientation and his religious beliefs, simultaneously trying to rid himself of his gayness and to fully realize it,” Hardy said.

Hardy explained the parallels between “Nothing Pink” and his personal experience as a young gay man in the South.

“The story itself is not autobiographical. There was no Mark and Robert. I was far too afraid of hell and inevitable persecution by my peers. However, Vincent is definitely based on me. But more the ‘me’ I wish I had been than the ‘me’ I actually was as a teenager growing up in Dry Fork in the 1970s. The places and people and particular details of the novel are either autobiographic or very close to it,” Hardy said. “Vincent’s struggle was also mine, but I did not make the spiritual journey of self-acceptance he makes until I was a decade older, in my mid-20s, when I came out. I was 24 when, lying on my own bed, in a bubblegum-pink room in Charlotte, North Carolina, I heard a voice, loud and clear, just like Vincent did, say, ‘I haven’t changed you because I made you the way you are.’ It was through the long writing of the novel that my own journey of self-acceptance was brought to completion.”

Singer Barry Manilow has a place in “Nothing Pink,” as his music was popular during that time.

“I have been a fan since age 10. When I started writing, I was encouraged to gather scenes by putting my characters in situations and settings and seeing what developed. I knew Vincent and Robert had to have an initial meeting. I knew his parents forbid secular music. I loved this Delta 88 my own father had and wanted to use it in the story. I, myself, used to listen to 8-tracks in the car as it occurs in the novel,” Hardy said.

“It seemed perfect fodder for fiction and so I had Robert come over and catch Vincent off guard, seat-dancing. I just needed a song. During my own car-sitting era, I was jealous of a neighbor/friend who had memorized Copa Cabana. After that scene was written, I started collecting all of Mr. Manilow’s music and listening to it as a muse for the novel.

“My job required a lot of driving back and forth from North Carolina to New York City and I would listen to my CDs, the novel writing itself in my head, sobbing, crying up and down I95, across the Long Island Expressway. In the same way that God speaks to Vincent through the music of Barry Manilow, God spoke to me, and in a way, wrote this novel through me. My own spiritual realizations and transformations through Barry’s music and the writing of the novel are parallel to the ones Vincent makes through Barry’s music and his relationship with Robert.”

Featuring Manilow in the story had an unexpected consequence for Hardy.

“After the novel came out, a friend of a friend, who is one of Barry’s dancer/singer/choreographers got Barry a copy. He loved the novel and when he toured in Raleigh, he invited me to the show, and for afternoon tea on the terrace of the hotel.  We had a lovely chat. That night, he added the song “All the Time”to the concert. He stumbled with the words of one phrase and after the song was fully sung, said, ‘I’m sorry, Mark.’ I cry now just remembering it,” Hardy said.

The setting in which the story takes place, Hardy said, was easy to select because he grew up in Dry Fork.

“I knew the difficult work was to discover the emotional and psychological journey of the character and it made sense to set my story in the physical places of my youth. In doing so, I was able to draw on the actual, specific details and particulars that were etched vividly in my memory, which freed up some creativity and imagination for the other parts of the story,” Hardy said. “Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Dry Fork of my youth was, and still is, an incredibly beautiful spot on the globe, one filled with amazing people – beautiful, kind, interesting, colorful Southern characters – a place that imprints itself deeply on those who dwell there.”

The time in which the story is set is also no coincidence.

“Very similar to ‘Why Dry Fork?’ I could draw on the actual details of my life. That era is interesting and nostalgic to many. Although, for young adult readers, the 1970s are almost historical fiction,” Hardy said.

Hardy offered some advice for young people struggling to come to terms with who they are.

“I would want them to learn to listen to and trust the still, quiet, but true voice within. And that there are many spiritual communities and religious denominations that are fully inclusive of and welcoming to LGBTQ folks – ones who don’t think we’re sinners. I would also want them to know that it is possible to live a completely full and happy life with no involvement in organized religion. I would try to connect them with a few of the multitude of resources out there that can help them navigate this journey. I would encourage them to find like-minded people: gay brothers and sisters as well as straight allies,” Hardy said.

Hardy added that he believed religion as it has existed in the southern United States for the past 50 years has done “hoards of damage.”

“The collective suffering couldn’t be calculated, but it has also done great, great good. I feel this way about myself, on an individual level. A lot of the pain and confusion and suffering and self-loathing of my life was the result of the religious beliefs of my upbringing,” Hardy said. “But, just as much of what is best about me comes from that same religious upbringing, religious texts, sacred songs, religious parents, and church community.

“The members of the churches of my youth were the most loving, best role models I can imagine. This is especially true of the members of Oakland United Methodist Church when I was Vincent’s age. I could not have grown up in a more loving, supportive community. Of course, they all knew I was gay and it wasn’t spoken about publicly. I was allowed to get away with the heterosexual facade I was trying to construct, but I never felt anything but love from those folks.”

Hardy shared some of the dangers faced by LGBTQ people as a consequence of religious and social persecution.

“Suicide attempts by LGBTQ youth are four to six times more likely than for straight youths. Many of those are due to factors related to religious aggression and condemnation. Often, the very religious authority figures doing the condemning are later caught in gay sex scandals,” Hardy said, adding that resources like the Trevor Project Hotline are available to provide support during crisis situations.

Hardy said that his book has received much praise from critics.

“The book was very well reviewed, by Kirkus, the Lambda Literary Review, and others. The feedback that has been most important for me has been from those who have seen their own transformation and self-acceptance in Vincent’s story, and especially those whose personal transformations have been aided by it. Some of the most exciting feedback came when Paul Ferguson chose to adapt the novel for the stage and now, for film as he is finishing a screenplay.”

Without spoiling the experience of reading the story, Hardy was willing to set an expectation for how the piece of nostalgic fiction would end.

“It does have a happy ending, and a horse named Happy. I always knew that it had to end well for Vincent and God,” Hardy said. “‘Nothing Pink’ is absolutely about accepting oneself, and also about accepting others. It is about letting love matter most.”

Hardy ends his emails with the phrase “love your way,” a simple phrase that perfectly illustrates the purpose of his work as an activist.

“Nothing Pink” is available from all major online retailers, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, as well as namelos.com, at independent bookstores, and at Brewed Awakening in Danville.

Brewed Awakening will host a book signing with Hardy on Saturday, March 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Wendell Scott StoryCorps

February 2, 2016

Kick off ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬ with a brand new ‪#‎AnimatedShort‬!

“Driven” is the story of [Danvillian] Wendell Scott, the first African American inducted into the @NASCAR Hall of Fame. Watch as Wendell’s son, Frank, remembers what it took for his father to cross the finish line at racetracks across the South.

from StoryCorps

https://storycorps.org/animation/driven/

Humungus

June 11, 2015

Metal band Humungus has just released their new official music video for “Warband”. The video was produced, directed and edited by Stuart Holt of the Park Group and features Ryan Waste (Municiple Waste/Volture/Bat) and Sam Mimms. The song is off their brand new full length album by the same name. Their first recording was a 7″ produced by Forcefield Records. Humungus band members Jack Bauer (Volture/Craptain Jack and the Shmees/Tengwar) and Robby Scarce (The You Go Girls/Craptain Jack/Double Helix) are Danville natives now living in Richmond, Virginia.

Afton “On the Way”

March 15, 2015

information about the late 70’s Danville, VA band Afton at

southerngaragebands.com

tmntfrom Danville Register & Bee:

A Danville native can be seen butting heads with Leonardo, Donatello and the rest of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” crew on the big screen.

Tyler Moschler, who goes by the screen name Tyler Peyton, stars as a foot soldier of one of the major villains in the film and got his acting start right here in Danville. His father, Ray Moschler, said the project was one of his son’s favorite moments so far as an actor.

“He said, ‘This is the best experience I’ve had,’” Ray said. “‘Everybody was just fantastic.’”

When Tyler auditioned for the part, the film was still under a working title, so he had no idea he was auditioning for a Ninja Turtles movie. It was only when he saw his wardrobe that he knew what film he was shooting.

“When I saw the outfit, I freaked out,” he said.

Tyler spent three weeks in the summer of 2013 shooting his role in the film. Ray said Tyler spent hot 12-hour-days at the shoot suited up in full costume, sparring with lead actors like Megan Fox and “The Lone Ranger’s” William Fitchner. Ray said his son had nothing but praise for the cast and crew.

“I was assuming it would only be a day,” Tyler said about the shoot. Instead, he spent days gun training with military personnel and learning the choreography required for the scenes.

“I was pretty much one of the core members of the Foot Clan,” he said.

Ray said Tyler got the acting bug early after attending plays with his parents and seeing actors and dancers at theme parks like Disney World. Tyler then got his acting start in Danville, appearing in several Averett University theater productions. The younger Moschler also started taking karate lessons, which Ray said also helped in land a role in the Ninja Turtles movie. Tyler added he even worked with one of the extras from the 1980s Turtle films while learning karate as a child.

“When I went to the performance, I was just in awe,” Ray said about seeing Tyler perform at Averett.

In 2001, Tyler moved to New York to fully pursue his acting dream. Tyler has five movie acting credits, dozens of commercials and several off-Broadway plays under his belt. Tyler also studied acting under Flo Greenberg, who has trained performers like Kirsten Dunst and Emmy Rossum. He even appeared as a dancer on MTV’s show “Total Request Live” before its cancellation in 2008.

Ray said his son was ecstatic about his time filming “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

“He’s really excited about this, and he did so much up there,” Ray said.

Tyler said he soaked in the experience every day of filming.

“It was just a blessing,” he said. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had since moving to New York.”

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” opened in theaters nationwide Friday.

Metcalfe reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

Must-See Danvillian

June 4, 2014

20140530-heath-x500-1401480328Heath Haynes & the Hi Dollars

From: Rolling Stone Must-See CMA 2014

When/Where: Saturday, June 7th, Samsung Galaxy Stage

Who: East Nashville’s patron saint of the western boogie, who plays swingin’ originals — and maybe a Merle Haggard tune or two

Why You Can’t Miss Him: Haynes has “this machine kills fascists” inked on his forearm; it’s the famous fighting words of Woody Guthrie, and Haynes attacks his songs like a true solider, battling to preserve the sacred catalogues of country’s greats. Though he can be found every Sunday cranking out a mix of classic covers at East Nashville’s the 5 Spot, he’s showcasing his own quirky rockabilly numbers that justify his status as an occasional guitarist for Wanda Jackson at CMA Fest. And ever the working musician, Haynes and his Hi Dollars band will also be hitting Broadway’s honky-tonks: Catch him at the Wheel on Friday, Layla’s on Saturday and, of course, across the river at the Fiver on Sunday.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/30-must-see-acts-at-cma-music-fest-2014-20140601/heath-haynes-the-hi-dollars-0683094#ixzz33cmWmynB
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/30-must-see-acts-at-cma-music-fest-2014-20140601/heath-haynes-the-hi-dollars-0683094

The Other Train Wreck

May 23, 2014

oakleyAnnie Oakley was one of the first female superstars. An American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter, Oakley’s “amazing talent” led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show which toured the nation in the early 1900s. The show was supposed to end its tour with one final performance in Danville, Virginia. Unfortunately, their train from Charlotte, NC collided with a southbound train in route to Danville.

read more about it here

holly-woodThis is an ongoing list related to Danville in film and television. Some items are incomplete as I have heard of them but have yet to find the information. This is what I have so far. I’m sure there is more. Let me know.

The image here is of the Cool World (1992) character Holli Would sitting on The Hollywood sign. Jerry Meadors placed the 92 foot cartoon character on the famous sign to promote the film when he worked in marketing for Paramount Pictures.

Films shot in Danville, Virginia:

Danville’s history in film and television go back to the early years of the silver screen. In 1925, The Bee (newspaper), produced the silent moving picture, Danville’s Hero featuring local talent and shot on location in Danville.

In 1959, The United States Army produced a film entitled, The Big Picture: Operation Danville. The film was a study of what can happen to an American community overrun by enemy forces and later liberated by friendly troops.

In 1977, the late great Richard Pryor starred in Greased Lightning, bringing the story of Danville’s Wendell Scott to the big screen. Some of the movie was filmed in Danville. Scott was the first black Nascar driver.

Amy and Isabel was shot in Danville in 2001, An Oprah Winfrey presents/Harpo films television movie featuring many local extras.

Eden’s Curve (2003) was filmed in Danville. Produced by Jerry Meadors and featuring many local talents on the cast and the crew.

The Answer was filmed in Danville in 2013 by native Danvillian Igbal Ahmed.

Films shot near Danville:

In 1990, Darryl Hannah and Dudley Moore were in the area shooting the comedy classic, Crazy People. The film was shot in Pittsylvania County.

Also in Pittsylvania County, the films Taps (1981) and Major Payne (1995) starring Damon Wayans. Both were shot at Hargrave Military Academy.

What About Bob? (1991) starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss was made in Smith Mountain Lake.

Last Lives was filmed in nearby Yancyville, NC in 1997, starring Jennifer Rubin and Judge Reinhold.

Lake Effects (2012) directed by Michael McKay, starring Scottie Thompson, Jane Seymour and Madeline Zima was shot in Smith Mountain Lake.

Night of the Living Dead Reboot (2013) was made in nearby Halifax County with Danville talent Norman Summers starring in the production.

Civil War drama Josephine was shot in Halix County in Spring 2015.

Films featuring Danvillians:

Born in Danville, Virginia, Charles Tyner starred as Boss Higgins with Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Tyner has been in numerous classic films including; Harold & Maude (1971), The Moonshine War (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), The Waltons (1973) , Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), and The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976).

Musician Mojo Nixon kicked off his career as an MTV personality. He can be seen as The Spirit of Rock and Roll in Rock and Roll High School Forever (1991). He also appears in Great Balls of Fire (1989), Super Mario Bros. (1993), and Buttcrack (1998) amoung others. He has been on numerous soundtracks including Micheal Moore’s The Big One (1997) and the animated series Beavis and Butthead.

In 1986, Jerry Meadors began working at Paramont Pictures. He first served as Manager of Marketing, promoted a year later to Director of Marketing, promoted again to Vice-President of Marketing for the Motion Picture Division in 1988. Meadors served in that capacity until 1996. His career with Paramount is highlighted by a string of hit films including; Top Gun (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Cool World (1992), Addams Family (1991) and Forest Gump (1994). Meadors went on to produce his own films, amoung many other things, Don’s Plum (1996) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Amber Benson, Jeremy Sisto, Meadow Sisto, and Kevin Connolly amoung others, Luz de la Mission (1988), Rhythm and Smoke (1999), and Eden’s Curve (2003).

Comedian Steve Moore pokes fun and Danville in his HBO special, Drop Dead Gorgeous (1997). He plays piano on one of Roseanne’s HBO comedy specials. He also appeared in an episode of Roseanne and in the film Iron Jawed Angels (2004) amoung many others.

Jerry Marshall worked as talent manager for ABC network……

Peter Wrenn has written screenplays…….

Diector/Actor/Writer Sean Robinson is making waves for his work; Lifeless (2012), The Puritans (2012), Outer Banks (2012), and Naked (2013).

Shawn Everett Jones worked as production designer of Eden’s Curve (2003). He also appears in Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012), The PBS series American Experience (2012), National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy (2013), and Drew Boulduc’s cult feature Science Team (2014) as well as a slew of other features, short films, tv shows, and music videos

Jeremy Flora can be seen in Lincoln (2012) , Killing Kennedy (2013), Beyond the Mat (2013) and AMC’s Turn (2014).

Ricky Van Shelton’s music can be heard on many movie soundtracks including; Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) and The Beverly Hillbillies (1993).

Johnny Williams wrote the music performed by Jeanette Williams for Bell Witch: The Movie (2007).

Actor/Director Skip Sudduth’s credits include; Third Watch (1999), Law & Order (2008), and Oz (1998).

Ray Hammock appears in Nevermore (2014), Praise Band (2008), and Eden’s Curve (2003).

Brad Everett Young can be seen in The Artist (2011), I Love You Man (2009), Jurrasic Park III (2001), and Charlie’s Angels (2000).

Matt Charles has been on General Hospital (2006), Guiding Light (2004) and Sex in the City (2003) as well as Yu-Gi-Oh! (2004).

Jeremy Harris plays the ghost of Basquait in LA’s Angel (2012).

Eric Hawkins produced E! News tv series (2009-10) and has done visual effects on the new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2013) series as well as animation for Nickelodean and G5 such as Robot and Monster (2012).

Matt Compton has worked as a composer on McGruber (2010) and Punk’d (2012) as well as many others programs.

Jody Abbott has scored several commercials and other projects…….

Matt Duff has created MTV programs……

Jeremy Rhodes is filming………..

Also seen in film and television:

Johnny Newman, Richard Jewell, Coy Jandreau, Andrea Willis, King D. Gray, Adam Franklin, Ruby Hill, Vince Shorter, Branden Weeks, Jay Hopkins and Jim Mitchell

Reality television:

Jon Dalton, Survivor

Peyton Turner, Rock of Love

Steve Tickle and Tim Smith, Moonshiners

Richard Benjamin Harrison, Pawn Stars

Treasure Hunters Roadshow came through Danville in 2011

Anna Sheffield, Kell on Earth

Patrick Ruocco, Restraunt Express

Danville mentioned in film:

Allen Ginsberg’s Coulumbia University room-mate (played by Zack Appelman) introduces himself as Luke Detiweler from Danville, Virginia in the film Kill Your Darlings (2013) starring Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) as the legendary beat poet.

Jerry Meadors

June 15, 2013

downloadJerry Meadors is a successful marketing executive, producer, and manager from Danville, Virginia. Meadors began his professional career in the entertainment industry as an actor, where he worked for six-time Tony Award winner Joe Layton. Previously, Meadors served as a business manager for the Hatcher Center, a Virginia workshop that trained developmentally disabled adults. There, Jerry developed a national market for a range of hand made folk products made by the center’s clients. The clients received national acclaim when they were invited first by President Jimmy Carter, and later, by Tony Orlando, to create works for them. They also received international attention and fundraising success when they produced a quilt out of Queen Elizabeth’s dress scraps.

After Meadors moved to Hollywood, he immediately became the Assistant Film Programmer for the Los Angeles International Film Exposition, the largest film festival in the world at the time. At the end of the two week festival, Meadors was promoted to Festivals Director by the Programming Director of the festival. Meadors then went to work at the newly formed company PolyGram Pictures. He moved from an original position at Publicity and Promotion into Advertising, then into International Marketing, and finally into Production. After PolyGram Pictures, Meadors continued his marketing and advertising career at Seiniger Advertising, a leading creative advertising agency in the business. Four months later, he joined Paramount Pictures.

At Paramount Pictures, Meadors first served as Manager of Marketing, where his team was tasked with rebuilding Paramount’s marketing department on the West Coast. A year later, he was promoted to Director of Marketing, and in 1988, he was again promoted, this time to Vice President of Marketing for the Motion Picture Division, where he served in that capacity until 1996. Meador’s meteoric rise in the company was accompanied by a historic string of successes over a ten year period, highlighted by Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Three Kings, Cool World, Addams Family, and Forest Gump. During his tenure at Paramount Pictures, he worked closely with a host of talented executives, producers, and actors, including Ned Tanen, Nancy Goliger, Dawn Steel, Sherry Lansing, Scott Rudin, Jerry Bruckheimer, Eddie Murphy, and Tom Cruise, among others. After he departed Paramount, he returned briefly as a consultant on the release of Mission Impossible.

In 1998, Meadors became the Senior Creative Account Supervisor at BLT Associates/Hollywood, where he developed award-winning marketing campaigns for Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema, Gramercy Pictures, and others. There he worked on such titles as Titanic, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Angela’s Ashes, Sleepy Hollow, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,Blade, Pleasantville, and Being John Malkovich.

Thereafter, he was President of Dazu Advertising, where he supervised a creative staff, closing out motion picture and home entertainment commitments with all major film studios during the transition of the company in closing. He was also Executive Vice President of Bingo Advertising, a successful home video creative marketing boutique, where he took over the helm and landed the company’s first motion picture theatrical accounts.

In 2003, Meadors relocated to Virginia, where he served as president of the North Theatre Group, Inc. As part of his duties, he supervised the renovation of an abandoned theatre and associated properties into a full-service arts complex. In addition, Meadors directed True West, directed and wrote As Time Goes By, and produced and directed The Importance of Being Earnest, among others.

In addition to the above productions, Meadors has been a producer, director, and writer on many theatre productions and independent films throughout his career. He wrote the original stage comedy Amorous Affairs, directed the original play Ballad of Lizard Gulch, produced Walk of Fame Café, an original play by Peter Wren, and mounted Wren’s Billy Bob and the Gospel. In addition, Meadors was producer and writer of the independent film Eden’s Curve and was executive producer of the 1996 film Don’s Plum. Meadors also served as co-producer of the documentary Rhythm and Smoke and was the producer of Luz De La Mission, the winner of the 1998 Best Drama Award at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.

Sean Robinson

June 7, 2013

sean5 Questions with Filmmaker Sean Robinson

BY DAVID ARTAVIA

JUNE 07 2013

(directly from the current issue of Advocate:)

Sean Robinson is an award-winning gay filmmaker based in New York City, whose work includes Outer Banks, Naked – A Musical Short Film, and The Puritans. The latter-most has won Best Original Concept at the NW Short Film Festival, Best International Short at the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival, and most recently The Grand Prix Award at the International Short Film Festival “Kharkov Lilac.”

Robinson’s unique stories and complex characters have garnered acclaim from critics and viewers alike. The young filmmaker opened up to The Advocate to chat about his inspiration, his craft, and where it’s all going.

The Advocate: What made you decide to be a storyteller?
Sean Robinson: From a young age, I always loved how entertainment can evoke strong feelings and sensations in people. I’ve explored many forms of the performing arts, but now at 28, I feel that directing and editing is where I am most at home. Thanks to some wonderful filmmaker mentors like Paul Warner, Jerry Meadors & VP Boyle, who took risks and gave me opportunities, I’ve been able to make my own films and break into the festival circuit with The Puritans and Naked – A Musical Short Film.
Both those films seem to have a recurring theme of rebelling against an oppressive environment. Is that from personal experience?  
Yes. I was raised in a loving, but very conservative, Christian family in Danville, Va. I have had huge conflict with my parents over the “gay” issue. Due to their loyalty to the Bible, they believe [being gay] is a sin, and I’ve tried to convince them for years that it is “normal” and OK. Nevertheless, my work will always have recurring themes of how religious fundamentalism is a destructive force. Hopefully, my films can enlighten and help others who have been ostracized by intolerant families, schools and religious communities, the way movies like Brokeback Mountain and Milk have done.
Has being gay affected your approach in how you write or build a character?
Absolutely. As do many other aspects of who I am.
What kind of movies do you think are missing from today’s culture? 
This is a bit random to say, but I’d love to see some well-made films with gay action heroes in the mainstream studio system. Not too many of those [exist].
Where do you think the future of film is going? 
[We’ll see] more refinement and efficiency within the digital medium. The quality will get better for cheaper. I know several people who are raising $50,000 on Kickstarter or IndieGogo to shoot a feature on the Arri Alexa, which is one of the best digital cameras on the market, and it will end up looking like a $200,000 film. Subsequently, this means more competition in the festival and distribution worlds. So you need to have a lot more than just a 35mm-looking digital camera to make a great film. You need a powerhouse story and tour de force characters. Without that, you just have an empty shell. I learned this from film and theatre director Paul Warner, who produced The Puritans and taught me everything I know about directing.

Maud Gatewood

March 30, 2013

1103mgatewood1Maud Florance Gatewood is considered by art historians, curators, museum directors, and collectors as one of the most important painters in North Carolina history. She grew up in Caswell County, North Carolina, just across the Virginia State line. Gatewood studied with Carson Davenport at Averett College. She earned her B.A. in fine arts in 1954 form the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and completed an M.A. in painting at Ohio State University. She was a professor at Averett University in Danville, Virginia.

 

gate_1Later in her career, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Salzburg, Austria. She exhibited widely in the southeastern United States throughout her career and won numerous awards for her work. Her life and work was chronicled in an hour-long documentary, Gatewood: Facing the Canvas, which was produced by UNC-TV. The Weatherspoon Art Gallery of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro held a Gatewood retrospective exhibition in 1994 that covered 40 years of her painting. The exhibition later traveled to five museums throughout the South. Gatewood was honored by UNCG with an honorary doctorate in fine arts in 1999.

Carson Davenport

March 30, 2013

carsondavenportA native of Danville, Carson Davenport was an artist of national reputation and an artist-teacher of the first-rank. Born on February 14, 1908, he spent most of his life making art. Mr. Davenport attended the Danville Public Schools and Stratford College in Danville. He also studied at The Corcoran School in Washington, Grand Central School of Art in N. Y., The John Ringling School in Sarasota, Florida and The Eastport Summer Art Colony. His works have been exhibited widely. He is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the country including the White House Collection, Knoedler Galleries of N. Y., the Virginia Museum and Valentine Museum in Richmond.

During the Depression he participated in the Public Works Art Project and his work attracted the attention of Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. She chose his painting Pioneer Women to hang in the White House. In 1936, Davenport was commissioned to illustrate the industries of Virginia by The United States Treasury Department. He was commissioned by The United States Postal Service to paint murals in Chatham, Virginia and Greensboro, Georgia. In 1937, Davenport became the director of The WPA Art School and Gallery at Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

DavenportH2ODavenport opened a summer art school at Chincoteague Island off the eastern shore of Virginia, where he enjoyed painting the wild ponies and marine landscapes. He described his unique style as an attempt to “stimulate the brilliance of the color of mosaic, as Roualt was influenced by the brilliance of the colors of stained glass.”

Carson Davenport was chair of the Averett College Art Department from 1943 until his retirement in 1969. He died on September 28, 1972.

 

Camilla Williams

March 30, 2013

Recently honored by the Library of Virginia as one of Virginia’s Outstanding Women in History, internationally acclaimed operatic soprano Camilla Ella Williams was born in 1920 in Danville, Virginia.

Miss Williams’ youth, in relation to music, is best recalled in notes she penned for her entry into the first edition of Who’s Who in the World. She wrote, “My grandparents and parents were self-taught musicians; all of them sang and there was always music in our home. From this, at an early age, was born a desire to be a concert singer.” She was singing in Danville’s Calvary Baptist Church at the age of eight. “All my people sing,” Miss Williams has said. “We were poor, but God blessed us with music.”

Also blessed with a rich mind, she was Valedictorian of her 1937 graduating class at John M. Langston High School, and was named outstanding graduate of the Class of 1941 at Virginia State College. She returned to Danville for the 1941-1942 school term and was appointed third grade teacher and instructor in music in the elementary schools. Following that term, the Virginia State College Acapella Choir invited her to be the guest soloist in a concert in Philadelphia. After this performance, Miss Williams was offered a scholarship from the Philadelphia Alumni Association of Virginia State on the condition that she come to Philadelphia for voice training.

In both 1943 and 1944, Miss Williams won the Marion Anderson Award, which is given to outstanding young musicians. Also in 1944, she signed with RCA-Victor and made her debut on Victor’s The Music America Loves Best. In that same year she took top honors in the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Concert auditions, and was engaged as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy.

On May 15, 1946, Camilla Williams made her debut with the City Center Opera Company of New York in the title role of Madame Butterfly, and became the first black soprano to appear with an important opera company in the United States. Miss Farrar, who had created the title role of “Madame Butterfly” on the Metropolitan stage, was in the opening night audience, and told Newsweek magazine of Miss Williams’ talents saying, “I would say that already she is one of the great ‘Butterflies’ of our day.” The New York Times found her to be “an instant . . . success in the title role,” and in her performance found “a vividness and subtlety unmatched by any other artist who has assayed the part here in many years.” Later that season, Miss Williams sang Nedda in I Pagliacci, and as Mimi in La Boheme in 1947.

Also in 1947, she won the Newspaper Guild Award as First Lady of American Opera. In the succeeding season, the young singer was brought forward in the title role of Aida.

In 1950, the singer embarked on a concert tour of Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. The following year she returned to Venezuela for her first South American appearance in opera. In 1950, also, Miss Williams sang the title role of Princess Ilia in a concert version of Mozart’s seldom-heard opera Idomeneo. It was the first complete performance of the work in New York City. That year, too, she married Charles Beavers, an attorney from Danville.

In 1957, her alma mater awarded her the 75th Anniversary Certificate of Merit, and 1959 brought a presidential citation from New York University. That year as well, she became the first black person to receive the key to her city of birth, Danville, Virginia. In 1960, she was the guest of President Eisenhower for a concert for the Crown Prince of Japan. In 1962, the Emperor of Ethiopia awarded her the gold medal, and she received the key to the city of Taipei, Taiwan, as well as the Art, Culture and Civic Guild Award for her contribution to music. The next year brought her the Negro Musicians’ Association Plaque for contribution to music and the Harlem Opera and World Fellowship Society Award, in addition to the W.L.I.B. Radio Award for contribution to music. At the invitation of the State Department, Camilla Williams made an unprecedented tour of fourteen north and central African countries. Due to this tour’s success, she was invited to Ireland, Southeast Asia, the Far East, and Israel.

With the 1970s, Camilla Williams brought another first to New York City as she performed Handel’s Orlando in 1971. And that year she was listed in the first edition of Who’s Who in the World. In 1972, she was honored as a “distinguished Virginian” by Governor Linwood Holton, and was later named recipient of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.’s highest award.

From 1970 to 1973, she was Professor of Voice at Brooklyn College. She later taught at Bronx College and taught with Talent Unlimited, directed by Dr. John Motley. Camilla Williams often returned to Danville, where a park beside the Dan River, on Memorial Drive, has been named after her.

Janis Martin

March 30, 2013

Janis_MartinJanis Darlene Martin (March 27, 1940 – September 3, 2007) was an American rockabilly and country music singer. She was one of the few women working in the male-dominated rock and roll music field during the 1950s and one of country music’s early female innovators.

Janis Martin was a Danville resident known  internationally as “The Rockabilly Queen”.

Martin was born in Sutherlin, Virginia and at the age of eleven she began her musical career as a member of the WDVA Barndance in Danville, VA. She was spotted performing at the Tobacco Festival in South Boston at the age of thirteen and soon became a regular on the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Wheeling, WV. In March of 1956, at the age of fifteen, she cut her first RCA session and became known as “The Female Elvis.” She was voted the “Most Promising Female Artist of 1956” by the annual disc jockey convention and she later received the Billboard Magazine Award. Janis performed on the Ozark Jubilee and the Grand Ole Opry. She also became known through television media as a guest of the Tonight Show, the Today Show, the Grand Ole Opry and American Bandstand.

Janis was living in Danville when Rockabilly became popular once again in the 1970s. Having raised her son, she went back on the road and her son accompanied her on drums. In the 1980s her popularity was revived in Europe. On March 27, 1982 Janis celebrated her 42nd birthday with ten thousand fans in Holland. Janis was scheduled to perform this past July at the Americana Festival in England but had to cancel due to poor health. Janis died from cancer on September 3, 2007.

Bloody Monday

March 17, 2013

Double Helix performs tribute song to Bloody Monday

Steve Moore

November 24, 2012

Steve was born in Danville, Virginia to Skeets and Wilma, both factory workers. Steve was gay in a community that had trouble accepting his orientation. Again and again he was surprised by the love of his parents and brother Dale. Skeets and Wilma even began to challenge their own Southern Baptit beliefs. Steve studied theatre, pursued acting in New York then headed out to L.A. where he became a comedian. Steve has enjoyed a career in comedy and film. He has been in many films and has worked with comic greats including Rosanne and Ellen. His HBO comedy special “Drop Dead Gorgeous” tells of his life and struggles and his early years in Danville.

follow the link below for a great piece on Steve and his fascinating life at prx.org:

http://www.prx.org/pieces/34974-steve-moore-tears-of-a-clown

This video was posted by visitdanvilleva at youtube.com, it is one of thirty-five videos about Danville history. Check them all out!

info on the song: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Raven Records

August 30, 2012

In the 60s, there was a record label in Danville that produced soul, rock, and garage records! Another discovery! I love how I always find new, fascinating things about this old town.  My friend Boomer of Psychedeli Records turned me on to this fascinating bit of chart-making Danville history! Here’s The Individuals – I Want Love. Awesome!

from Jack Garrett’s interview on WBTM and Showcase Magazine

Danville’s Hero, 1925

August 30, 2012

While researching for a future blog about Danville in film and television I came across this film that I had never heard of before. It was produced by The Bee (newspaper) and featured local folk. The whole article about the film is copyrighted so I won’t copy the info, just provide the link. Check it out! Danville’s Hero. Blog by Robert D. Ricketts with research by Anne Evans.

I wish I could see the film!

The image is of Miss Mary Temple who stars in the film.