Home Lifestyle COLUMN: ‘My Kind of Town’: Arts are alive in Richmond County

COLUMN: ‘My Kind of Town’: Arts are alive in Richmond County

William P. Gottlieb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Since my return in mid-February, I have run, trundled, traveled, ventured and explored the highways and byways of Richmond County and I have discovered that there are many positive events going on throughout the region.

New restaurants, new construction and the refurbishing of many of the historical houses and businesses are all on go. We must, however, embrace our history and our arts.

According to the Eden Gallery website, “Art is one of the most important things in human history. It has a profound impact on how people think, behave, and relate to each other. Art is one of the oldest forms of human expression and is often used to communicate emotions and ideas.”

I fondly remember the two-week Fine Arts celebrations headed up by Dr. John Langley at Rockingham Junior High (now Rockingham Middle). One week we were learning how to make lye soap and other crafts. The next week, we were being serenaded by a chamber orchestra, presented the Ira Levin play “Deathtrap,” and rock-and-rolled by Jim Quick and Coastline, just to name a few of the acts. I also remember Loonis McGlohon and his jazz trio performing as well.

Now, as I am wont to do in these columns, time to tell a quick anecdote.

I am a huge, HUGE I say, Frank Sinatra fan. I am also a graduate of St. Andrews in Laurinburg. Ok, McDonald, what’s the point? How do these two relate? Loonis McGlohon is how.

In 1999, I was a student at St. Andrews. A friend of mine had given me a book on Frank Sinatra. As I am reading it, I discover that Sinatra recorded two of Mr. McGlohon’s songs: “South to A Warmer Place” and “A Long Night.”

So, when I found out that Mr. McGlohon was to be awarded the 1999 Sam Ragan Award at St. Andrews, I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Mr. Sinatra had passed away on May 14, 1998 and I had a copy of Life Magazine that had devoted an entire issue to his life. I took it with me and had Mr. McGlohon sign it. He said that Mr. Sinatra was a gracious man and he had enjoyed working with him.

I was in heaven. I had also mentioned that I had seen Mr. McGlohon and his trio at a Fine Arts week at Rockingham Junior. He said that he too remembered it fondly and that he would remember the kindness of the faculty, staff and students during the festival.


Thus, a connection made by the arts.

Art is not just painting — art involves theater, art involves sculpture, art involves music, art involves photography and art involves writing. Any way you can express yourself can be considered art. So, how does this work towards community involvement?

Art gets people talking. Art gets people together. Art makes a community. In Richmond County, the arts scene is thriving.

From the various concerts at Cole Auditorium, to the monthly open mic nights at Nana’s Coffee Rocks (organized by teens), to the festivals, food trucks and classic car shows throughout the county to art presentations at Arts Richmond, the county’s art scene is on the rise. Also, having a native son, Bucky Covington, as a star in Nashville, kinda helps too.

One of our former residents, Dr. Wanda Wall Spivey, said in an interview I conducted back in late February, “You build a community through its arts.”

You also can build a community on its history as well.

To be continued…

Christopher McDonald is an accomplished educator and military veteran with experience in print and radio. Reach him at cmcdonald@richmondobserver.com.

Previous articlePHOTOS: Raider tennis senior night
Next articleRockingham First Baptist holding revival