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Arts & Culture

Weekend In Entertainment: Rosenwald Schools, Akeelah & The Bee, Brewers Festival & More!

Akeelah & The Bee
The Children's Theatre
"Akeelah and the Bee" will be t the Children's Theatre on Friday.


This weekend runs into the start of Black History Month and there are lots of events in the QC in honor of the annual celebration. There's live music, a lecture and other events this weekend -- including a large beer festival and a film screening. Joining All Things Considered host Gwendolyn Glenn on this edition of Weekend In Entertainment is Katrina Louis, managing editor of QCity Metro. 

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Katrina. 

Katrina Louis: Hi Gwen.

Glenn: As I mentioned, Feb. 1, Saturday is the start of Black History Month, a time when people, organizations, churches and city officials increase efforts to acknowledge the history and accomplishments of African-Americans. One of those events is on Saturday, where local historian Dr. Tom Hanchett will hold a public conversation on the Rosenwald Schools. What do you know about this event?

Louis: Dr. Tom Hanchett is the Historian-in-Residence at the library, and he's leading a talk that's looking at the Rosenwald School program. And for those who don't know, those were schools that were built for black students across the rural South. And at the time, they were significant because they were considered state-of-the-art. So this was funded by Julius Rosenwald, who was a Sears Executive and philanthropist, in partnership with Booker T. Washington. And a fun fact, according to the Charlotte Museum of History, there were 26 Rosenwald Schools in Mecklenburg County. 

Katrina Louis, QCity Metro
Credit Sarafina Wright
Katrina Louis, managing editor of QCity Metro.

Glenn: When and where?

Louis: This will be on Saturday at the Hickory Grove branch of the library from 2-3 p.m.

Glenn:OK, moving on to a bit of jazz an African American art form. Ronnie Laws is in town tonight through Saturday with vocalist Sy Smith. Katrina, tell us about them and the show?

Louis: I appreciate your excitement. Now, for those who don't know Ronnie Laws, he actually comes from a musical family. His older brother and two sisters, they're all known names in the music industry. And he actually did a stint with Earth, Wind and Fire for almost two years. But Sy Smith, now she's been called "the hardest working woman in underground soul." She's been in the industry for quite some time. She's done background vocals for powerhouses like Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan. She's had a couple of albums. So this should be a good high energy show happening at Middle C Jazz Club

Glenn: And that's what days?

Louis: They'll be performing Thursday through Saturday.

Glenn: And on Friday, the Children's Theatre presents "Akeelah and the Bee." The film "Akeelah and the Bee," starring Keke Palmer and Laurence Fishburne came out years ago. What do you know about it? 

Louis: So for this production that's happening at the Children's Theatre, it's directed by Northwest School of the Arts drama teacher Cory Mitchell. And they have their own version of Keke, 15-year-old Kiara Cassius is playing the lead role of Akeelah. She's an 11-year-old who's grown up in a tough neighborhood in Chicago. And she actually just recently lost her dad. So she's really smart, but she isn't really focused on school. So her teachers and her mentor encourage her to enter a spelling bee. And she does well in it. And she actually makes it up to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

Glenn: OK, how long will this show run? 

Louis: So the show opens on Friday, runs through Feb. 16.

Glenn: And in other events, there's a documentary this weekend “Call Me by My Name." What's that about Katrina?

Louis: This documentary actually follows six Charlotteans who are experiencing homelessness. So they come together over 18 months to put together a stage play where they're performing their life story. They've been touring around, and this is the last performance for a while. So this one is happening at ImaginOn on Saturday at 2 p.m. and it's free.

Glenn: That should be a powerful film. And another event that attracts tons of people is the Queen City Brewers Festival. Lots of tasty beer on tap, I'm told.

Louis: Lots of locally produced craft beer and cider, so this festival is exclusive to Charlotte-area breweries, brewpubs, cideries, along with hand-picked restaurants and snack vendors. All the festival proceeds will benefit ACEing Autism Charlotte. So just a good event to do a lot of tasting and a way to give to a cause. 

Glenn: Yes, when and where?

Louis: That's happening at Park Expo on Saturday starting at noon. 

Glenn: Now, if you're in the mood for a dance party with some hits from the '90s, you're in luck. There's the Off the Wall “New Jack Swing” edition at Petra’s in Plaza Midwood. Tell us about the new swing event?

Louis: I am an '80s baby, but I was a child in the '90s. So this is bringing back my childhood. Think your baggy overalls, all of those things. If not, Google is your friend. But expect music from Heavy D., Tony Toni Tone! Michael Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. There'll be a lot of good hits happening. So just a very nostalgic piece going on. 

Glenn: That sounds like a whole lot of fun. And also, everybody, remember the Super Bowl is this weekend, the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Lots of big game events all over town in terms of that. Katrina, thanks for being with us. 

Louis: Thanks for having me.