Michael Ching
Jorge Parodi
Howard Watkins

SAVANNAH, GA – March 30, 202 – Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) has announced the expansion of its Board of Directors to include three new, distinctly talented members–Michael Ching, Jorge Parodi and Howard Watkins. Michael Ching is the Composer in Residence for the Savannah VOICE Festival. Howard Watkins and Jorge Parodi are part of the faculty at SVF’s sister organization, VOICExperience Foundation, where they offer piano, coaching and conducting. Parodi and Watkins have also been musical contributors to SVF for many years, having worked on productions including Romeo and Juliet, Pagliacci and Traviata with The Savannah Opera Company. Michael Ching and Howard Watkins also serve on the Savannah VOICE Festival Diversity committee.

“It’s essential for SVF’s Board of Directors to genuinely reflect the marvelous diversity of our Savannah community,” said Co-founder and Executive Director Maria Zouves. “We’re excited to welcome these three, fantastic artists and educators, whom we have worked with for many years, to help us serve SVF’s mission of creating a unique destination for music lovers both locally and globally!” 

An opera composer/librettist, conductor, and songwriter, Michael Ching is the composer/librettist of the opera SPEED DATING TONIGHT! With nearly one hundred productions since its 2013 premiere at the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center, SPEED DATING TONIGHT! is one of the most popular operas of the 21st century. His most recent project, ALL DRESSED UP (No Place to Go) for L’arietta Productions in Singapore, includes nine quarantine-related songs which are now part of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! His newest opera, RSBE, had its premiere at the University of Alabama in 2020. In 2018-2019, two new one act operas had their premieres, THRIVERS, at Palm Springs Opera Guild, and EIGHT WOODS AND A VAN, at the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. Additional shorter operas in 2018-19 included BIRTHDAY CLOWN at the Savannah Voice Festival and COMPLETING THE PICTURE for Utah Opera’s commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. As Composer-in-Residence of Savannah Voice Festival, Michael wrote ALICE RYLEY (2015) and ANNA HUNTER (2017) two works with Savannah subjects. Other works include SLAYING THE DRAGON and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, opera a cappella, recorded on Albany Records. Michael’s other well-known opera is BUOSO’S GHOST.  BUOSO is a comic sequel to GIANNI SCHICCHI. Recently, BUOSO was performed at the Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Delaware. In 2021, Savannah Voice Festival will premiere his CENERENTOLA sequel, A ROYAL FEAST. Ching lives with his family in Ames, Iowa.

Jorge Parodi was born in Argentina, and has worked extensively in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Recent credits include Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Tampa, Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires for New York City Opera, The Atlanta Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia and Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi for Buenos Aires Lírica (Argentina), Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for the Castleton Festival in Virginia and The Banff Centre (Canada), Offenbach’s Les contes dHoffmann for Opera Orlando; Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges for The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center and the World Premiere of Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt, the latest opera by John Musto –a coproduction of On Site Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago Lyric’s Unlimited and Pittsburg Opera. Upcoming engagements include his return to The Atlanta Opera and Opera Tampa, and his debut at Chautauqua Opera.  Parodi has been reviewed as having “the most expressive conducting hands since Stokowski” by the New York Daily News. Parodi has also worked with such companies as the Teatro Colón in Argentina, the Volgograd Opera in Russia, the Encuentros Internacionales de Opera in Mexico, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy in Japan and the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel. He has collaborated with such artists as Isabel Leonard, Eglise Gutierrez, Tito Capobianco, Sherrill Milnes, Aprile Millo and Rufus Wainwright and has assisted conductors Lorin Maazel and Julius Rudel, among others. Parodi is also the Music Director of the Senior Opera Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has led its productions to critical acclaim.

American pianist, Howard Watkins, is a frequent associate of some of the world’s leading musicians on the concert stage, and an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. His appearances throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Russia, and Israel have included collaborations with Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle, Grace Bumbry, Mariusz Kwiecień, Anna Netrebko, and Matthew Polenzani, as well as violinists Xiang Gao and Sarah Chang at such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Spivey Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the United States Supreme Court, Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the three stages of Carnegie Hall, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. He has accompanied the classes of legendary artists Renata Scotto, Frederica von Stade, Régine Crespin, Birgit Nilsson, Sherrill Milnes, and George Shirley. Watkins has served on the faculties of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mannes School of Music, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the International Vocal Arts Institute (Israel, Japan, and China), IIVA in Italy, the Brancaleoni Music Festival in Italy, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy (TIVAA), and VOICExperience in Orlando, Tampa, and Savannah. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Watkins completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in accompanying and chamber Music at the University of Michigan. In 2004, he received the Paul C. Boylan award from the University of Michigan for his outstanding contributions to the field of music, and a special achievement award from the National Alumni Association of the University of Dayton.

Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Donations are tax-deductible.

For more information about the Savannah VOICE Festival please visit

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or, or Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or



SAVANNAH, GA — MARCH 18, 2021 — The Davenport House Museum will host “Know Hamilton” lecture and performance in the garden at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30. In case of rain, the event will be moved to the Drawing Room in the Museum, which is at 324 E. State St. in Savannah.

The lecture, given by historian Jimmy Napoli, will focus on Alexander Hamilton’s early years and will be followed by actress/playwright Eva Dorrepaal’s one-woman show, “Raising a Revolutionary.” The show is set in the 18th century Danish West Indies, where Hamilton’s mother, Rachael Faucett, contends with a criminal record and a vengeful ex-husband while trying to keep food on the table and prepare her son for life’s harsh realities.

The program will be 55 minutes long and tickets cost $20 per person. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the audience size will be limited to 25 people or less and everyone must wear masks and practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations will be available.

Davenport House Museum Director Jamie Credle thinks the evening will sell out and expects the audience will be delighted by the show, which Napoli and Dorrepaal will soon stage in the Caribbean.

“Eva and Jimmy are currently traveling down the Intercoastal Waterway and heading to the Caribbean to provide tours and organize events on the island of St Croix, where Alexander Hamilton began his illustrious career before arriving in New York. Eva wondered if she could work out an opportunity to work with the Davenport House and contacted the staff to see if a performance of her work could be arranged. We happily agreed,” Credle said.

Napoli has been lecturing and leading tours on Alexander Hamilton for over 25 years. He has been a licensed New York City. tour guide since 1996, specializing in the American Revolution, the creation of the federal government of the United States of America, the abolition movement and women’s suffrage. In 2007, Napoli appeared in the PBS documentary “The American Experience: Alexander Hamilton,” written and directed by Middlemarch Films. Dorrepaal has written three plays to date, as well as starred in numerous motion pictures that have been screened in more than 50 film festivals, including Cannes, Toronto and Sundance. She authored and performed three solo shows and had numerous appearances in European TV programs. The couple is currently maintaining a YouTube channel documenting their travels, entitled “Living in Xisle.”

The mission of the Davenport House Museum is to preserve and interpret the American Federal-style house and the artifacts within, built by master builder Isaiah Davenport for his household, with an emphasis on the years 1820-27. The DH seeks to educate, enrich, and inspire our visitors and the community, as well as recognize the historical role of the house in the founding of Historic Savannah Foundation. Situated on Columbia Square at the corner of State and Habersham Streets in historic downtown Savannah, it is one of the oldest brick structures in the city and sees approximately 40,000 visitors annually, through its guided tours and education programs. For more information or to reserve tickets for the “Know Hamilton” lecture and show, please call 912-236-8097.

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, Kristyn Fielding at or 229-393-6457, or Hollie Barnidge at or 912-272-8651. 


As the UK will be more or less in lockdown until at least April 12, I have been hearing from my family and friends across the pond about how they have been passing the time, especially since the British climate has been keeping people indoors.  There are lots of ‘lockdown cliches’ which we have also experienced in the USA ranging from zoom parties, bread baking, bingeing on Netflix and social media, family board games and a new or rekindled interest in arts and crafts.  For example, knitting has seen a resurgence in popularity as a productive way to use some extra time available when normal activities are curtailed.

When I think of knitting or crocheting, I think of my maternal grandmother – who was a rather tough character – but she did make a point of crocheting a blanket for each of her grandchildren who made it to university.  I still have mine.  She tried to teach me how to knit and I just about grasped the basics, but I always preferred to have my head in a book or try out a new recipe in the kitchen.

The dictionary defines knitting as “the act of forming a fabric by looping a continuous yarn” and its history is rather fascinating.  It is believed that ancient Egyptians were experts in this craft.  People in the Middle East brought this skill along the trade routes to Europe and there is evidence of knitted items in Spain from the 13th century – when Spain was dominated by Arabian cultures. Knitting was only available to the wealthy since it used expensive silks and cottons.  Inexpensive wool became popular later. 

From the mid-15th century affluent people in England and continental Europe began to wear knitted silk stockings, including the men who wore fashionable “doublet and hose” – short pants with stockings underneath.  Apparently, England’s Queen in the late 1500’s, Elizabeth the 1st, was a great fan of knitted silk stockings and pairs believed to belong to her are still in existence.

Around this time people began to use affordable wool to knit for themselves and with the introduction of the more elaborate purl stitch (as in “knit one purl two”) knitting became a popular practical skill with both men and women making knitted hats and more.  Sailors and fishermen took to knitting and began making warm, weather-proof sweaters for wearing on the chilly seas.

By the late 1800s, the middle and some upper classes adopted knitting as a suitable ladylike activity.  The First World War from 1914-18 saw a renewed interest in knitting as people were encouraged to knit and send socks, scarves, hats, and gloves to soldiers in the trenches of France.  During the depression years of the 1930s – when my grandmother was a girl and young woman – knitting was essential as women could buy inexpensive wool or unpick old sweaters as an economical way to clothe the family.  The Second World War again saw knitting for soldiers, then in the 1950s and 1960s, when a greater choice of colors and yarns became available, women were often taught to knit in school so they could knit for their families when they became wives and mothers.

So how did knitting become such a female dominated activity?  In her book, “The Power of Knitting”, Loretta Napoleoni claims that knitting is “an essential tool for the survival of our species, a means for women to influence history and a soothing activity to calm us”.  Knitting has also had an amazing role in the history of secret wartime communications!

Did you know that during times of war, knitting has been used to pass secret codes through the encryption within different stitches?  Knit stitches are flat while purl stitches are horizontal bumps so by alternating these two stiches knitters could send encrypted messages of Morse code within a sweater or scarf.

During World War 1, Belgian intelligence agents asked elderly women who lived near railway stations to monitor the Germans train movements and knit the information into scarfs that could be passed along.  After all, old women looked too innocent to be spies.  Women were even more important during the Second World War as knitting was a way for female spies to encrypt and pass along military secrets while hiding in plain sight – the perfect cover.   If caught these brave women were usually executed.  During WWII, both the United States and the U.K. banned the printing and posting of written knitting patterns, as their repetitive abbreviations could easily be ciphered into codes, but they could hardly ban knitting itself.

Across the Atlantic throughout the early days of this country, and throughout much of the 19th century, women’s approach to knitting and other needle arts underscored existing class and racial divisions. Middle-class and wealthy white women were free to take up needlework selectively, and for either leisurely or political causes, while lower-income or marginalized women turned to it for income and survival. Sewing and knitting circles, became a place for educated women to exchange ideas and talk about political issues and campaigns including the abolition of slavery, temperance, and votes for women. 

There is more information at and

I will leave you with a quote about knitting which amused me although its source is unknown: “I like making a piece of string into something I can wear.”

God Bless America!  Stay safe, stay well, and stay positive.

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at  or via her PR and marketing agency at



SAVANNAH, GA – March 19, 2021 – Asbury Memorial Church (AMC) has announced their 2021 virtual Holy Week schedule of worship services leading up to a joyous Easter Sunday virtual service at 11:15 a.m. Sunday, April 4. In addition, for the first time in over a year, on Saturday, April 3, the church nave will be open for people to enjoy the sanctuary and Easter lilies.

Asbury Memorial’s Holy Week services include:

  • 11:15 a.m. Sunday, March 28 – Palm Sunday virtual service commemorates the Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, where devoted followers greeted him, laying palm leaves before him. Parishioners are invited to submit a photo of themselves with a palm or any other item that symbolizes this holy day. The photos will be displayed online during the worship service.
  • 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1 – A 25-minute virtual Maundy Thursday service will commemorate the Last Supper – when Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples.
  • 7 p.m. Friday, April 2 – A 25-minute virtual Good Friday service remembering Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday, April 3 – Asbury Memorial will host The Living Cross experience where guests can bring flowers to place in the church courtyard as part of the floral Living Cross. Guests will also be invited to a masked, socially-distant walk through of the sanctuary, where they can walk down the church aisle and enjoy the Easter lilies.
  • 11:15 a.m. Sunday, April 4 – Easter Sunday virtual service where worshippers celebrate the miracle of resurrection with joy and gratitude.

Easter traditions differ amongst Christian denominations, most noticeably Eastern and Western Christians. Asbury Memorial follows the Wesleyan tradition which celebrates Lent, a forty-day period beginning on Wednesday and leading up to Easter, and then a fifty-day Easter season afterwards, which ends with Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Christian church. Easter Sunday itself is characterized by joyful songs and news of the miracle of resurrection, the coming of light after a time of bleakness.

“Even though the church is not fully reopening yet, Holy Week and Easter gives us an opportunity to offer services that are meaningful to everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey,” said Asbury Memorial Church’s Rev. Billy Hester. “Everyone is invited to join our congregation for these special virtual services and participate in the Living Cross and visit our sanctuary complying with COVID-19 safety precautions.”

Asbury Memorial Church is a Christ-centered, forward-thinking, all-embracing congregation that celebrates the joy of God creatively and is committed to remaining a welcoming and affirming congregation for all.

For more information about Asbury Memorial Church and the links to the virtual services, please visit

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at or 229-393-6457, or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).



SAVANNAH, GA. – MARCH 16, 2021 – Georgia Tech-Savannah is slated to host the next in their breakfast series of virtual Learners and Leaders seminars from 9-10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 27.  These popular events are free to all participants, although registration is required.  Today, more than ever before, as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the responsibilities of employers and managers to follow guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are top of mind for many people in the workplace.

Participants in this free seminar will learn about OSHA issues and virtual attendees will hear from: Colin McRae, Partner at Hunter Maclean; Misty Hayes, Regional Safety Manager at U.S. Xpress, Inc.; Luke Dorman, Senior Project Manager at DPR Construction; and Tom Mcllvaine, EHS Manager. Each panelist will speak about their personal experiences and discussions will include a focus on: issues and the implications and challenges of a multi-employer worksite and how to implement best management practices for all types of employees working on the same jobsite; how to prepare for and what to expect from an OSHA inspection as well as the legal ramifications of employing temporary workers. Attendees will be invited to submit questions for the panelists by the program facilitator.

“Learning how to abide by OSHA regulations is essential in all types of workplaces. This virtual Learners and Leaders event is likely to be popular among safety directors, managers, supervisors, foremen and women, human resources professionals, and administrators who all need to be prepared (and prepare their employees) for these issues. I believe participants will be interested to hear from business leaders who have extensive experience with OSHA and value the opportunity to ask questions. We welcome any business professional to join us for this session,” said Dana Atkinson, Research Associate II at Georgia Tech OSHA Education Center.

To register for this event, please visit,



Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 


The Historic Beaufort Foundation cordially invites you to join us for this year’s annual Spring Architect’s Tour. Taking place on Saturday, March 20, 2021, our annual tour will guide you on a unique journey of Beaufort through examples of both traditional and contemporary architecture, showcasing the creative and distinctive imprint of some of our most accomplished architects. The homes chosen for this year’s tour specifically interpret the Lowcountry in the 21st century. This year, we are featuring properties that have been recently completed and “hard hat” tours of properties under construction.


Beaufort has boasted some of the best of southern architecture since building began here in the 18th century. Today’s local architects continue that tradition of excellence. This year, the tour highlights the work of Allison Ramsey Architects, Frederick and Frederick Architects and Montgomery Architecture & Planning.  Architects, Builders and Contractors will also be onsite to answer questions during the tour, including:  Broad River Construction, Allen Patterson Builders, Howell Builders, Phifer Contracting and TD Commercial Builders.  

Properties included in this year’s tour are located in historic downtown Beaufort, Lady’s Island, Cane Island, St. Helena Island and Fripp Island.

Cara May Cottage

Location: Beaufort Historic District
Architect:  Allison Ramsey Architects
Builder: TD Commercial Builders
Interior Designers: Jeremiah & Emily Smith

This beautiful cottage, full of curb appeal, is similar in size to the original freedman cottages built throughout the North West Quadrant of Beaufort’s Historic District in the late 19th century.

Cane Island Home

Location: Cane Island
Architect: Frederick & Frederick Architects
Builder: Patrick McMichael, Broad River Construction
Builder: Matt Phifer, Phifer Construction
Interior Design: Frederick & Frederick Architects

This home’s custom design provides a more contemporary feel than the traditional Lowcountry style and emphasizes the owner’s desire for a light-filled house with clean lines.

St. Helena Island House

Location: Station Creek
Architect: Montgomery Planning & Architecture
Builder: Allan Howell, Howell Builders
Interior Design: Susan Loeffler

This ultra-modern home sits along the marshes of Station Creek with views to St. Phillips Island, Bay Point, and the mouth of the Port Royal Sound.

Fripp Island Home

Location: Fripp Island
Architect:  Allison Ramsey Architects
Builder: Allen Patterson, Allen Patterson Builders
Interior Designer: Allen Patterson Builders

This custom waterfront house has a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and is high on southern coastal charm. Garden spaces and a pool accent the interior side of the lot, adding to outdoor living opportunities.

Factory Creek Home

Location: Lady’s Island
Architect: Montgomery Planning & Architecture
Builder: Matt Phifer, Phifer Construction

This innovative project is a blend of old and new by reimagining a 1970’s split-level house into a sensitive and sustainable design.

Your safety during this event is a priority. The Historic Beaufort Foundation is mindful of the continuing Covid-19 concerns and will make every effort to ensure that protocols are in place for signage, social distancing, access, masking, hand sanitizer and other necessary precautions. Masks will be required when inside the properties.


Spring Architect’s Tour

Date:  Saturday, March 20, 2021 – rain or shine

Time: 10AM to 4:30PM

Price: $65 per person – Advance Reservations are recommended and available by calling HBF at 843-379-3331 or by visiting this link. The tour is self-paced and self-driven.

This year’s tour sponsors include: Gilbert Law Firm, Broad River Construction, Allen Patterson Builders, Howell Builders, and Phifer Construction

Whether you are a history buff, a lover of architecture, or looking for inspiration for your own home, this year’s architectural tour has something for everyone. Please join us and enjoy this unique opportunity to get a look at some of the most fabulous new architecture in Beaufort.  

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SAVANNAH, GA – Embargoed: 10:30 a.m. March 11, 2021 – Pritty: The Animation – the first-ever, Black, queer animated short film based in Savannah is launching its Kickstarter Long Story Short campaign on Thursday, March 11 to reach their next stretch goal of $125,000 on the path to raising 1.6M for the total production budget.

Keith F. Miller, Jr.,an award-winning educator, artist, researcher, and Savannah native wrote a soon-to-be published LGBTQ+ novel inspired by the complexity of growing up Black and queer in the Deep South. Founder of Healing By Any Means, a creative consultancy and production company that powers people, projects, and research at the heart of systems and narrative change using art, media, and healing-focused pedagogy, Keith crossed paths with a NYU filmmaker, Terrance Daye, and together, they reimagined a chapter of his novel into a short film – Pritty: The Animation.

To donate to the Campaign, please visit

This story was created in response to a startling, ever-present truth: boys and young men of color face innumerable obstacles that prevent them from living long, full, healthy, and productive, emotionally-rich lives. Miller believes there is a correlation be­tween the limited range of queer youth of color representation on screen and the staggering number of suicide attempts LGBTQ+ youth around the country. Unfortunately, most queer coming-of-age films habitually reproduce trau­mas onscreen without visualizing futures beyond the “coming out” experience.

Pritty: The Animation aims to address this disparity by showcasing youth of color, specifically Black men, in an unconventional light. Instead of perpetuating the same narrative of Black boys fighting, belittling, and harming one another, viewers experience a front-row seat of a different reality and narrative of them at play, discovering themselves, being vulnerable and healing in the process. This intentional approach of visualizing that “When Black and Brown youth play, they heal” stems from Miller’s own research and work as an educator at the Deep Center. Today, few, if any, animated queer coming-of-age stories exist for Black men. Pritty aims to fill this gap and expand a necessary conversation around what it means to be a Black boy coming-of-age in America.

“Putting this together in the middle of a pandemic – there were so many reasons to give up, but we are a team of dreamers and talented, queer POC artists who just don’t know when to stop,” said Pritty: The Animation Director Terrance Daye. “We believe that the Black kids we create this art for are worth the big asks, time, and money that it takes to put a production like this together. That is why we could not stop making this film and that is why we had to keep dreaming.”

The animation direction brings Miller’s childhood depiction of Savannah to life through the use of lush, romantic landscapes, textured ambient sounds and distinctly Black character designs to create a sense of immersive realism through traditional 2D animation. The production team is partnering with Powerhouse Animation Studios in Texas for Animation Production. As part of Kickstarter’s Long Story Short campaign, the team will spend the rest of March crowdsourcing enough funds to reach their next stretch goal of $125,000 with hopes of eventually reaching the 1.6M budget to produce the full 20-minute animated film in their desired artistic style.

“Our stories, our culture, our communities, our hoods deserve to occupy the center, and this animation is a reminder of that,” said Executive Producer Keith Miller. “Savannah has always been a place of dreaming for me, a way to imagine what’s possible beyond the trauma I and many other youth of color have experienced every day, which is why Pritty: The Animation must exist. We need everyone’s help to ensure we reach our goal to complete the animated short film. And as history asks us how we will respond in this moment, how we will create our own legacy, no donation is too small. All funds will go toward the wonderful village it’s going to take to bring this story to life and show that Savannah, the state of Georgia, and the Deep South is capable of so much more than people think. Whether queer or not, a person of color or not, we all need this so we can heal, together.”

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For media inquiries, please contact Crystal Vogel at or 912-509-1510 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).



SAVANNAH, GA – March 10, 2021 – The Savannah African Art Museum is celebrating Women’s History Month with two special virtual workshops. The first, “Celebrating African Women Hidden Figures,” is set to launch online the week of March 13. The second, “History Maker Mayor Edna Jackson, Savannah’s First African American Woman Mayor, who served from 2012-2016, shares her Africa Experience,” will be available the week of March 27.

Throughout history, African women have played important leadership roles in society, media, and across a multitude of professions.  Unfortunately, in some areas, they have not been as widely recognized or celebrated as their male counterparts. SAAM’s workshop aims to enlighten participants about a few of these women and tell how the roles they’ve played over the years have influenced and shaped history as well as today’s world. Workshop viewers will be surprised to find the powerful African female themes and effects that surface frequently in everyday life.

The second workshop, which will be available the week of March 27, will feature Savannah’s first African American female mayor, Edna Jackson. A history-maker herself, this special program will feature Jackson’s recollections of her own Africa Experience and how it shaped her personally. Jackson has traveled to both Ghana and Nigeria. Her 2000 trip to Ghana was coordinated by former Savannah State University President, Dr. Carlton Brown, and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Joseph H. Silver Sr., who established the university’s student exchange program with Ghana. The trip was instrumental in solidifying important relationships with Ghana’s universities and its leadership, which were essential to the program. Jackson’s Nigerian trip was with a delegation of doctors, healthcare workers and volunteers as part of a health initiative partnership with Dr. Eugene Nwosu and St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital.

“My trip to Ghana was incredible and one highlight was meeting the leader of the Ashanti Nation and then welcoming him to Savannah as our honored guest. People from all over Georgia came to meet him as we rolled out the red carpet for him and showed him our southern hospitality. I also had the privilege of traveling to the Cape Coast and saw where the enslaved had been kept in slave castles and caves which was passage through the ‘Door of No Return’ toward their terrible destination,” Jackson said. “Later, on a mission trip to Nigeria as part of a delegation with Dr. Nwosu and St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital, I learned to read prescriptions and assisted with dispensing eye-glasses. I remember the amazing hospitality of the Nigerians as I had a birthday during our trip, and they surprised me with a wonderful party and a new traditional Nigerian dress! The purpose of these African trips is still relevant today and the connections made between Savannah, Ghana and Nigeria remain.”

SAAM Education Coordinator Lisa Jackson was eager to bring the African Women Hidden Figures workshop back for Women’s History Month and honored to have Mayor Edna Jackson to be a part of the celebration.

“There is such a rich history of powerful, female influence in African culture. These hidden figures deserve recognition and to be celebrated. Women’s History Month is the perfect occasion to do just that, “Jackson said. “And combining that content with engaging personal stories and experiences from one of our region’s groundbreaking female leaders, Edna Jackson, just really rounds out the workshops and lends so much depth.”

To participate in these workshops, please visit To learn more about the museum, upcoming workshops, and the museum’s newest collections, please visit and follow SAAM on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @SavannahAfricanArtMuseum.

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, Kristyn Fielding at or 229-393-6457, or Hollie Barnidge at or 912-272-8651.



SAVANNAH, GA – TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 2021 – The Foxx family, one of Family Promise of the Coastal Empire’s program graduates, was featured on NBC’s Today show Sunday morning. Their success story — driven by mom Savannah Foxx’s hard work and determination — was part of a segment about the ways in which President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief package could reduce child poverty by half. To view the segment, go to

The new stimulus bill expands the child tax credit to offer most parents monthly checks, allowing them to receive up to $3,600 per child for a year. Economists say the groundbreaking program is akin to a basic-income policy. As the pandemic wears on and many to struggle, the added funds would help give added security to families facing homelessness – as the Foxx family once did, albeit very unexpectedly.

In 2016, things were not going well between Savannah Foxx and her husband. Along with their five children, ages 2-12 years, the couple decided to move to Savannah and try to make a new start. “My name’s Savannah; people always assumed I was from here, so it seemed like a good place to turn over a new leaf.” Unfortunately, things grew worse instead of better, and — at a public event with the children — Savannah’s husband physically assaulted her. 

Scared for her life, she and her children stayed at a safe shelter for a few days until, after obtaining restraining order against her husband, they returned home. With only one income, it only took a few months before she could no longer afford the $1,400. rent. “It was rent or the car payment and I HAD to have my car to get to work,” Savannah explained.

Someone at work told Savannah about Family Promise. She called, but there was a waiting list for emergency shelter. Nowhere else to go to wait, she parked her car in a church parking lot, where she and her five children slept for over a week.

“It was summer and so hot. Sometimes I had suicidal thoughts. Never in a million years did I ever think we would be homeless. But that’s just it — being homeless isn’t only people begging on streets; it’s working people suddenly going through something. I promised my kids we would never live like this again.”

Getting the call from Family Promise that space was available was “a pivotal moment,” Foxx said. “After everything, I’d pretty much lost my faith and was sort of iffy about staying at churches — but they were awesome! Everyone was so sweet and helpful, never pushy. Actually — they restored my faith.”

Her children were cared for at Family Promise’s Day Center, enabling Savannah to put more money towards a place to live. “When I had my first month’s rent, they helped me find a three-bedroom house and paid the deposit,” she said. The family has been there ever since and is doing well.

“Without Family Promise, I don’t know where I’d be, physically and spiritually, or if I’d have ever gotten out of that hole,” Foxx said. “When I left, I was so motivated that I went to school and am now a paramedic with Chatham EMS.”

Recently, she responded to a paramedic call where a woman, with five children, had been badly assaulted by her husband. “I told her I’d been exactly in her shoes and to call Family Promise. They’d helped me so now I could help her. Everybody goes through things, some worse than others. Everything that happened to me led me to the field I’m in today. I’m forever grateful for Family Promise.”  

Family Promise envisions a nation in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future. What began as a local initiative in Summit, NJ, has become a national movement that involves 200,000 volunteers in over 200 communities in 43 states. Family Promise delivers innovative solutions for family homelessness including prevention, shelter and stabilization services. The organization has served 1 million family members since its founding more than 30 years ago, and its leaders aspire to change the future for 1 million children by 2030 through our community-based programs.

For more information about Family Promise of the Coastal Empire, please visit, email or call 912-790-9446.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at or 912-272-8651, Lesley Francis at at 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


The land of my birth is still pretty much in lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so everybody has been “glued to the box” (British slang for avidly watching TV) to keep up with all the royal happenings during these troubled times.  Before we get into the whole Prince Harry and Meghan Markle saga, there are several other things of note which are of concern to the Queen right now.

Firstly, Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years who will be 100 years old in three months, has been in hospital for three weeks and is recovering from a heart operation.

More publicly, senior members of the royal family, led by the Queen, have been trying to support and reassure the citizens of the UK which sadly has one of the highest number of deaths from COVID 19 across the world.  Britain is densely populated with 68 million people crowded together on an island the size of Georgia plus about half of Florida, so the virus has hit the UK very hard.  While people all over the world are suffering due to the pandemic, my heart breaks for everyone back in Great Britain.  

Just last weekend, with her husband very sick indeed, the Queen broadcast a special TV interview speaking of the importance of staying in touch with family and friends during “testing times”.  Senior royals including the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appeared with her to mark Commonwealth Day as the Queen is Head of the Commonwealth.   The Queen used her rare TV broadcast to highlight the “friendship, spirit of unity and achievements” around the world and the benefits of working together in the fight against the coronavirus. “The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others,” she said.  This comment is a significant contrast to the turmoil engulfing her own family. 

Of course, this broadcast by the Queen was timed to be just before the controversial media interview of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by Oprah Winfrey which broadcast last Sunday in the USA and last Monday in the UK. Just in case you have somehow avoided this controversy, here is a quick recap.  British Prince Harry, the Queen’s grandson, married American actress Meghan Markle in May 2018.  They had a son Archie the following year and ‘separated’ from the rest of the royal family in early 2020 – moving to Canada and then Los Angeles in the USA.  They are now expecting a little girl this summer.

When people ask me what I think of the estrangement between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the royal family I say that I can understand that Meghan found herself in a different country and culture and the focus of a lot of media attention which must have been very stressful.  During the interview with Oprah Winfrey Meghan talked openly about her mental health and suicidal thoughts when living in the UK.   I can understand and respect the fact that the Prince wants to protect the privacy, health and happiness of his wife and family.  Remember, while he was still a boy, he lost his mother Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris while she was being pursued by paparazzi.   As a generalization, people in the USA are more sympathetic to their situation whereas the British, and the British media in particular – which Meghan and Harry criticized during the interview – are extremely critical of the couple.

Personally, as a citizen of both the UK and the USA I can see both sides of the situation.  However, I struggle to understand or accept the way Meghan and Harry have gone about leaving the royal family – in spite of their public reassurances about their respect for the Queen.   It was unrealistic for the couple to leave the UK and a royal life of public service, but still expect to pick and choose the parts of royal life and the royal titles and perks that they liked.  The couple has further alienated much of the British public by attempting to cash in on their celebrity status.  Many media reports say that they are being paid $7m or more for their interview with Oprah, although they claimed not to have been paid, and what is certain is that they have also signed deals with Netflix and Spotify.  Meghan reportedly has even invested in a start-up company that markets an instant oat milk latte.  Harry defends all this by saying the royal family cut off his money and he needs to fund security services to protect his wife and children.  He has been forced to survive on the money his mother, Princess Diana, left him – which must be plenty as he purchased a $14.5 million home in California.

By contrast, the rest of the royal family justify their position in modern British society by what the Queen calls “a life of total service”.  She truly lives a life of service to the British people, not only as an important figurehead hosting Heads of State and leading the nation in events of remembrance and celebration, but she also continues well into her 90’s to carry a very full schedule.  Before the pandemic she visited charities, schools, and a multitude of public events, always to the delight of her adoring public, and continues to do as much as possible to support the nation during these challenging times.  According to, the official website of the British Royal Family, “The Queen sees public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work …. The Queen has links, as Royal Patron or President, with over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations.”

I will leave you with a quote from Prince Harry from about 15 years ago, when he served in the British army, long before he met Meghan.  “Once you’re in the military, she means a lot more to you than just a grandmother. She is the Queen. And then you suddenly, it’s like start realizing, you know, wow, this is quite a big deal. And then you get goosebumps and then the rest of it.”  A bit sad considering the state of his relationship with his grandmother today.

God Bless America and the British royal family!  Stay safe, stay well, and stay positive.

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at  or via her PR and marketing agency at