Celebrate champions at Festival of Music fundraiser

Published 12:01 am Monday, May 30, 2016

What is a champion? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a champion is one that defends, fights for, or supports a cause; superior to all others; to fight as champion of; defend; support. We have two such formidable champions here in Natchez that we want to celebrate.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Friday the Natchez Festival of Music is having a fundraiser, “A Celebration of Champions” at the Towers. It will be a fundraiser cocktail reception honoring Mary Lessley, chairman of the Natchez Festival of Music board of directors and David Paradise, president of Paradise Companies, LLC.

This year’s festival programs were a total success. The performances were excellent. Local area children were exposed to an opera with a humorous and poignant message. The festival attendance was record breaking. Many people have contributed to the festival’s success by providing housing, food, transportation, ticketing, facility maintenance, marketing, promotion efforts and financial contributions, without which there would be no festival. The festival’s board of directors are very appreciative of all your support.

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Mary and David are two very special champions of our Natchez Festival of Music who have personally gone above and beyond. The cocktail reception is a small recognition for their efforts.

Mary has contributed her time, talents, and financial support, along with her husband Jimmy, for four seasons. The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce honored Mary this last year as Woman of the Year for her volunteerism and her arduous work with the Natchez Festival of Music. She was also a nominee for the Caring Women recognition and celebration in the leadership division put on by the First Natchez Radio Group and the then Natchez Community Hospital and Natchez Regional Medical Center. Her involvement in her church, First Presbyterian, and her volunteer efforts in the community are well known.

David’s continual financial support is the reason we have been able to offer to the Miss-Lou’s elementary schools the children’s opera exposing the children to a different genre of music and stage performance. Born in Natchez, David is well known for his involvement in the community. In Natchez, his generosity includes arts festivals, the local humane society, the Historic Natchez Foundation, the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, and even securing his hometown as the filming location for the award-winning movie about James Brown, “Get On Up.” He is engaged in developing franchises for Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, IHOP and Applebee’s. David is involved in real estate investments and construction and still has time to contribute to the children’s outreach program of the Natchez Festival of Music.

During the Natchez Tricentennial celebration of Natchez’s history, the Natchez Festival of Music continues to bring fabulous music of all genres and young, aspiring, talented artists from all over the country. Our esteemed festival artistic director, Dr. Jay Dean, makes sure, “There is truly something for everyone.”

Everyone is invited to celebrate our champions with a cocktail reception, fabulous food, and entertainment from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the wonderful home of Ginger and James Hyland, the Towers, 801 Myrtle Ave. For $60 a person, you can personally thank Mary Lessley and David Paradise for all they continue to do for our Natchez Festival of Music.

“Come for the music! Stay for the experience!”

To make reservations, go online to natchezfestivalofmusic.com, call Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at 601-446-6631 or go to the NPT office at the Natchez Vistor Recpetion Center at 640 S Canal St. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.


Sandy Taylor is member of the Champions Committee of the Natchez Festival of Music