03 Feb 2011
- Written by Terry Schlichenmeyer
Terrence Martin, 17, and Brandy Goodwin, 7, are two rising stars whose desire, hard work and talent are propelling them into this special category. They perfect their skills in classes at the FireHouse Community Arts Center and Academy and are members of the Arts-A-F!RE Youth Theater Troupe, for kids 9-17.
Memphis Black Arts Alliance (MBAA), a 29-year-old organization located in a 1910 converted fire station at 948 South Bellevue, launched its youth theater troupe in May 2009.
Naomi Williams Moody – the Memphis-born and internationally recognized singer/actress and artistic director for the troupe –said that excellence in all three areas is rare.
“The mastery of all these skills makes an entertainer who is comfortable on stage, in films, recording studio or wherever an audience is present,” said Moody.
“You find singers who move, actors who sing and dancers who act, but it’s rare to find someone who excels in all three. Terrence and Brandy will experience success at whatever vocation they choose because of the discipline and control they exhibit as triple threats.”
| Brandy Goodwin in the title role of “Amazing Grace” at Evergreen Theatre last July. Brandy’s other roles include “We Are the Dream: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” “Smoldering Fires” and “Sing, Dance and Act…Merry Like Christmas.” (Courtesy photos)|
“I work my hardest,” said Brandy Goodwin. “Plays and production, and wait, classes at school, dance productions in hip hop and ballet.” “I love dancing… I’m very stretchable.”
A student at Rozelle Elementary School where she also participates in drama, chorus and dance, Brandy takes four acting classes a week, plus four a week in dance and two in acting.
“I make very good grades at school. I’ve had perfect attendance for four years, I’m in the fifth grade now,” said the determined performer in her customary enthusiastic manner.
“I love doing what I can do… I love being in the lead but will take any role,” said Brandy, the main character in a production of “Amazing Grace.’”
Adding to her self-assessment, she said, “I’m good at paying attention, studying and science. I’m Ok in math.”
Moody, who casts and directs Arts-A-F!RE Theater Troupe productions, said Brandy’s energy is overwhelming.
“She volunteered for every part in every play we have done. When she is cast, she comes to rehearsal prepared, knowing her lines and everybody else’s,” Moody said. “Brandy’s growth has shown in her ability to now be patient, to focus and concentrate, which was very difficult for her at first.”
Next fall, Brandy plans on attending Stax Academy and can hardly wait. Meanwhile, she is devoting energy to writing compositions and what she calls a “come together play.”
| Terrence Martin in “The Me Nobody Knows.” He also is a vocalist with MBAA’s new Jazz-A-F!RE Youth Ensemble.|
Terrence Martin is an admitted introvert. The high school senior said his principal and teachers at Whitehaven High School are hardly aware that he can dance, sing and act. He is even a little surprised at himself because the revelation of his talents has come in stages.
Right now, he has a passion for piano, which he began studying at age 6 but stopped at age 10. “It’s just a passion for me now,” said Terrence, who also composes music. “I woke up one morning and started hearing music in my head.”
Terrence’s “now” also includes composing music. He began singing at age 8 in the choir at Alpha Church on McLemore, under the leadership of Pastor Jesse Gilliland. His signature solo is “Trouble Don’t Last Always.”
Moody said Terrence barely spoke above a whisper when he first came to the theatre troupe.
“I did not know what a wonderful singing voice he had until I needed someone to sing a solo and made every student sing the solo. Terrence opened his mouth and I was floored.”
With every show, a different skill has manifested.
“He solos on a lot of songs, he is dance captain of the troupe, he takes whatever role I cast him in and steps up to the challenges,” Moody said. “He was assistant director and stage manager for ‘Smoldering Fires.’ He is highly disciplined and influences the other troupe members to strive toward his high standards. In other words, he is no longer introverted.”
For Terrence, the joy in acting includes the freedom to be someone other than himself. He particularly likes the “comedic part of acting.”
Of the three skills, Terrence’s favorite is dance and for that he credits his aunt, Dorothy Martin. When he was 10, Martin took her nephew to classes offered by The Arts – Visions and Venue, Inc. That introduction evolved into him later performing in several productions there offered by founder Lethelea Jackson.
As for the future, Terrence, a “B” average student, plans to attend the University of Memphis or Bethel University in McKenzie (Tenn.).
And what does he want to major in? Music.
The Memphis Black Arts Alliance’s Arts-A-F!RE Youth Theater Troupe is an Associate Company member of the Evergreen Theatre and performs four shows a year at the venue. The new season begins in February.
Brandy Goodwin and Terrence Martin both have been cast in the next production, “Freedom Is My Middle Name,” which will run Feb. 11-13.
Bennie West is the MBAA executive director. For more information, visit www.memphisblackartsalliance.org or call FireHouse Community Arts Center at 901-948-9522.