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The Atlanta Opera and Art on the Atlanta BeltLine present:  Our Walk to Healing: An Immersive Performance and Processional

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, The Atlanta Opera and the Atlanta BeltLine invite you to join Our Walk to Healing: An Immersive Performance and Processional. The collaborative performance takes place on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside and Eastside Trails surrounding Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado’s “Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement: 1944-1968” photo exhibit. The event will feature narration from historian and curator Dr. Sims-Alvarado and musical performances from soprano Jayme Alilaw and soprano Minka Wiltz.

Attendees are invited to celebrate survival and healing with the performers by dressing up as little or as much as they would like in attire reflective of the Civil Rights Movement era. The events will take place on the Westside Trail and Eastside Trail on October 27. At 10 a.m., the processional will begin at the White Street trailhead of the Westside Trail and last until approximately 12 p.m. After a lunch break, the event will continue on the Eastside Trail at Ponce City Market at 1 p.m. until approximately 3 p.m.

This performance is a part of the “Belting on the BeltLine” series funded by a Collaborative Innovation Grant awarded earlier this year to The Atlanta Opera and the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership by The Home Depot Foundation and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN). “Belting on the BeltLine” is designed to bring free opera performances to open air locations and schools along the Atlanta BeltLine.

The Atlanta BeltLine uses public art to elevate the stories and creative cultures of communities surrounding the old rail corridor. The convergence of these projects celebrates the influence of African-American women on the operatic and musical landscape of America, as well as reverence for Atlanta’s role in the Civil Rights movement. 

Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is constantly seeking ways to make high art forms free and accessible to the public,” said Miranda Kyle, Arts & Culture Program Manager at Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “Teaming up with The Atlanta Opera is a great way to bring this art form out of the opera house and into the public space.”

“Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement: 1944-1968” opened on July 7 and will run through December 1, 2018. It is based on Dr. Sims-Alvarado’s book by the same name. The exhibit is presented across four miles of the Eastside and Westside Trails, making it the longest outdoor exhibition on civil and human rights in the United States. To learn more about the exhibit, click here.

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Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado is the Founder and CEO of Preserve Black Atlanta, a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to identifying, recording, and preserving African-American history and culture, Dr. Sims-Alvarado has developed a model for utilizing historical and cultural assets as a catalyst for economic and community development.  She has worked with some of Atlanta’s leading institutions: the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta History Center, Herndon Home Museum, and Central Atlanta Progress.  

Dr. Sims-Alvarado received a B.A. in Mass Media Arts and an M.A. in African and African-American Studies from Clark Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in History from Georgia State University. She is currently pursuing an M.A. degree in Museum Studies from Harvard University. As well, she is a multi-recipient of the prestigious National Endowment for Humanities Summer Institute Fellowship with the Georgia Historical Society and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University.  

Dr. Sims-Alvarado has served as the Founding Director of the John Lewis Fellowship with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and has taught at Agnes Scott College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and Georgia State University.  She serves as a leading authority on Alonzo Herndon, Atlanta’s first black millionaire as well as the Nineteenth-Century Back-to-Africa Movement in Georgia.

Currently, she is the civil rights historian and exhibition consultant with the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden for the exhibit, “A Rights to Freedom: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” As well, she is curating a 4-mile photography exhibit on the Atlanta Beltline that celebrates Atlanta’s contribution to the Modern Civil Rights Movement. 

Dr. Sims-Alvarado is the author of the newly published book, the Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968, with Arcadia Press.

© Marsha N. Wilson Photography

Jayme Alilaw thrives in the operatic, classical, and spiritual repertoires. Jayme has performed roles from the standard operatic repertoire as well as the contemporary canon, often premiering original works. Jayme is a resident artist with The Atlanta Opera and has been featured in studio tour and community performances. She is also a General Company member at Dad’s Garage Theater Company and is a founding member of ImprOper, an operatic improvisation team.  A veteran of the U.S. Army, Ms. Alilaw frequently sang for military ceremonies throughout the United States and the Middle East. Driven by a passion for traditional spirituals and an advocate for the performance of works by African American composers, Jayme is highly sought to perform concerts, recitals and present her research at academic conferences, colleges, and museums across the country. Jayme is currently touring La Femme Noire: The Celebrated Woman, a program that highlights works by African American women composers and poets while celebrating the contributions of African American women operatic performers. Jayme is the Founder and CEO of Music After School, offering group and individual music lessons as an enrichment through aftercare programs, in-home lessons, workshops and summer camps. 

Minka Wiltz has been acting for 14 years and singing for 31 years. She began her love/like relationship with performance when she was six years old and studied western classical vocal music with the Young Singers of Callanwolde (YSC) where she was fortunate enough to sing on the stage of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the Grammy Award winning, Kennedy Award Winning conductor Robert Shaw. Her first plane ride was to the United Kingdom where she performed with YSC in London and Edinburgh. Minka completed her studies with the Young Singers when she was 14 years old and continued to study voice privately. After graduating high school, Minka went on to University settings but opted to pursue a professional career in the theater which brought her to New York to briefly study at Julliard, the historic Negro Ensemble Company, and then Atlanta, GA, where she wrote, co-produced, and starred in her first piece Three Weird Sisters which performed at the 14th Street Playhouse. She went on to become a three-time Suzi Bass Nominee and a highly respected actor in the Atlanta Theater community where she has worked with Alliance Theater, The Horizon Theater, The Actors Express, Synchronicity Theater, The Atlanta Opera, and Working Title Playwrights. Minka has just finished her fairytale operatic love letter Breathing Fire Moving Earth (BFME)which is a follow up piece to Shaking the Wind (STW) – a one-woman show perspective developed at Theater Emory in their 2015 workshops series Brave New Works as professional piece in development. She has written original music which has been included in BFM but will also be built into a new operatic sound built on Minka’s extensive training.

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