Town celebrates Black History with ‘Freedom Songs’ music

Farragut Museum observed Black History Month with a program and exhibit that celebrated African-American music and other contributions throughout history.

The sixth annual event, which drew 102 attendees Sunday, Feb. 12, began with a reception in the Rotunda of Farragut Town Hall, where attendees could walk through an exhibit. Attendees then filled seats of the boardroom to watch Bright Star Touring Theatre’s performance of “Freedom Songs: The Music of Black History.”

“[The attendance] seems to grow every year,” Vivian Varner, Farragut Black History Month Committee member, said.

Misty Sheidler, a Daughters of the American Revolution member, said she attended the event because she thought it would be interesting.

“I think our eyes should be open to what’s going on and what people have contributed to our country,” Sheidler said.

Linda and Joanne Jeter, two founders of the Black History Month program, stopped to look at a display for her son, James Marcus Jeter.

“That’s my son,” Linda said. “I want people to know about what my baby is up to.”

A Farragut High School and University of Tennessee graduate, James Jeter now works at Intel in Phoenix, where he is an engineer and supply line manager, and he recently became engaged to a pharmacist.

Polly Justus, a teacher at Farragut Primary School, said she attended because she likes to be active in what is going on in the community.

“We come every year,” Dorothy Stone Porter of Farragut said. “[The Black History Month program is] nice.”

During the performance, Bright Star cast members Alexandria Bates and Sherman Sutton entertained the audience with music that started with work songs and spirituals to blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll while at the same time educating people about how music was used.

During the 1800s, slaves would sing songs while they worked.

“Many times, the work songs contained hidden meanings,” Bates said. “They could sing them in front of their masters without them knowing what they were singing about.”

Such songs included “Wade in the Water,” which told slaves to escape through the streams to avoid detection, and “Steal Away,” which also told them how to escape.

The performance by Bates and Sutton encouraged the audience to participate by singing along with the actors, who received

a standing ovation after their


Following the performance, Loretta Bradley, program coordinator, encouraged young people to “learn your history.”

“It was very educational and informative,” Porche Wynn, Farragut resident, said.

“[The program] gets better every year,” Varner said.

“I like the way they dressed up,” Xavier Truman, 7, said.