Around Town: New children’s book spotlights famous and lesser-known Black historical figures

INSPIRING YOUNG READERS: Two longtime friends will celebrate the publication of their first children’s book at an Aug. 8 event. Local attorney Jorge Redmond, left, and entrepreneur Ali Kamanda, right, hope the book’s story sends a positive message to their sons and other young readers. Photo courtesy of Sourcebooks Publishing

For Asheville attorney Jorge Redmond, both the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and memories of the 2016 movie Hidden Figures served as inspiration for his debut children’s book, Black Boy, Black Boy. 

“Wearing many hats as a father, teacher and attorney, I wanted not only my son but other Black and brown boys to believe … in themselves and to know that anything is possible,” says Redmond, who serves as assistant district attorney in the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office.

Redmond co-wrote the book with friend and social entrepreneur Ali Kamanda; award-winning artist Ken Daley illustrated the story. Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe will host a free hybrid launch Monday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. with the official publication date the following day.

Black Boy, Black Boy tells the story of a father walking his son along a metaphorical path of history. The father highlights figures who represent Black excellence and pride, including former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick, former President Barack Obama and writer Chinua Achebe. The picture book is intended for children ages 4 and older.

“This book was written to Black boys [and] for all kids, and allows an understanding of important historical figures that could be inspiring to any reader,” says Redmond. “Black success can come from many parts of society, not just on the field and stage.”

Malaprop’s is at 55 Haywood St. To register for the event, visit

Forevermore I’ll Sing

As a child, whenever Madison County vocalist Donna Ray Norton attended the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, she saw it more as a family reunion and less as her potential future. But now, after 23 years as a performer, she has established herself as a recognized ballad singer, continuing the Western North Carolina tradition that’s been part of her family legacy for eight generations.

Norton is one of over 40 performers participating in the 95th annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, taking place at UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Hall Auditorium, Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 4-6, 7-10 p.m.

Norton will debut two songs from her new album, Forevermore I’ll Sing, during her Friday, Aug. 5, performance. The album, featuring centuries-old ballads, will be available for purchase at the event.

Each evening will offer a different show, featuring musicians, dancers and storytellers who aim to preserve the traditions of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Performances will include bluegrass, century-old ballads, clogging, smooth dance and storytelling.

“I hope that people who aren’t familiar with my genre [of music] will enjoy my album enough to continue to listen to it for years to come and maybe even want to learn to sing these old songs themselves,” Norton says. “For people who are familiar, I hope that they can hear how much I’ve grown as an artist over the years [and] see how committed I am to keeping this tradition alive.”

The Lipinsky Hall Auditorium is at 300 Library Lane on the UNC Asheville campus. Tickets range $5-$25. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Save the elephants

For most people, the question is cats versus dogs. However, local artist Dee Santorini has a soft spot for elephants.

“It is the strong sense of family that I find most charismatic about elephants,” says Santorini. “They love deeply. One of their favorite things to do is hug each other. I love who and what elephants are. I wish humanity was more like elephants.”

Santorini will present Elephants Stampeding Trackside, an exhibit depicting elephants and other creatures of the Serengeti region of Africa, at Trackside Studios in the River Arts District from Saturday, Aug. 6-Tuesday, Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. An opening reception will be held Saturday, Aug. 6, 1-4 p.m. Santorini will also host live painting sessions every Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6-27, noon-4 p.m.

A portion of all elephant painting sales will be donated to Save the Elephants, a Kenyan-based charity.

Trackside Studios is at 375 Depot St. For more information on the exhibit, visit

Second Saturday

Speaking of the River Arts District, the latest Second Saturday in the RAD takes place Saturday, Aug. 13, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Along with featured artists and demonstrations, the event will include a class on Ukrainian pysanky eggs led by Andrea Kulish.

For the complete Second Saturday schedule, visit  

Crafts fair days

The Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair returns for its 65th year Friday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 6, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., on Main Street in Burnsville. This year, the fair will feature more than 200 vendors and performers, including 40 local artists from Yancey County.

The jury-selected lineup includes ceramics and woodcarvings, jewelry, blown and sculpted glass, metalwork, textiles and woven baskets. Bluegrass, country music and clogging will be performed on the main stage throughout the weekend.

“These days, [we have] nearly 250 vendors and more than 30,000 visitors,” says festival director Christy Wood. “Craft fair days are two of the biggest sales days for many businesses in the county.”

Along with live music, Parkway Playhouse will present a kid-friendly performance of Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play. All children in attendance will receive a free book as part of the playhouse’s Reading is Alive program.

The fair takes place on Main Street in Burnsville. For more information, visit

Take a walk

Artsville Collective will present A Walk in the Woods, an exhibition by seven local artists depicting fall in Appalachia at Marquee in Asheville’s River Arts District Friday, Aug. 5-Sunday, Oct. 30.

“[Viewers] will feel immersed in the woods through a variety of artists and mediums,” says Louise Glickman, Artsville co-founder and artist. “The artists’ works invite one to consider what they think and dream about when they walk in the woods.”

The event features the work of five guest artists: Jim McDowell’s storytelling face jugs, Bronwen McCormick’s watercolor fall landscapes, Jo Miller’s nature-inspired “illusion” baskets, Ellen Golden’s modified landscape photography and Mary Farmer’s encaustic woodland scenes. Additionally, Glickman will exhibit her own quilted landscapes, and fellow Artsville Collective co-founder Daryl Slaton will have augmented reality pop characters.

Marquee is at 36 Foundy St. For more information, visit

Where there’s smoke

The Asheville Center for Connection + Collaboration will present Smoke & Mirrors, an immersive performance installation that uses smoke and mirrors to create multimedia layers of projected imagery, movement and sound. The outdoor show takes place Saturday, Aug. 20, 8:30-10:30 p.m.

After the performance’s successful spring premiere at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center’s {Re}HAPPENING at Lake Eden, CCC artists knew they had to perform it again, says CCC founder Cilla Vee.

“Some people said it was one of the most beautiful performances they had ever seen,” she says. “[Others] had a deeply spiritual experience with the piece.”

This time around, there will be more time and space for audience members to “get in the zone,” Cilla Vee adds.

The performance will feature artist Geo Lynx on graphic animation and video projection, his son Pax on music and composition, and performance art by Cilla Vee.

The CCC is at 65 Coleman Ave. Suggested donations are $5-$20. For more information or to register, visit



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