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Free holiday concert planned for Sunday

NATCHEZ — Natchez organist Henry “Burnley” Cook plans present a patriotic-themed performance this weekend in at outdoor concert at his shop on Winchester Road.

The concert is free and will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 5, Cook said, adding attendees will hear his selection of a dozen Independence Day songs starting the “Star-Spangled Banner” and ending with “America the Beautiful.”

As Cook plays the approximately 100-year-old organ he rescued from the old Baker Grand Theatre, he said the sound could easily be heard all around the neighborhood.

People could seat themselves in lawn chairs, on the grass or in their cars parked along the streets while maintaining social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook said.

“They’ll hear themes from Air Force, Marines, Army and Navy — all on a wonderful instrument that is getting close to 100 years old,” Cook said.

Cook began playing at the age of 8 years old and still entertains 51 years later.

He is the founder of the “Music for the Masses” group on social media and has a long history of playing at restaurants, community functions and churches.

In previous years, Cook played a Fourth of July concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Natchez for an audience of approximately 250 people, he said.

Due to the pandemic and people’s desire to get outside, Cook said he believes his audience would appreciate an outdoor concert to celebrate the holiday weekend. The concert should last approximately 40 to 45 minutes, he said.

“(Attendees) should bring water and dress lightly … be careful respect other people’s space,” he said. “… Come along and enjoy the sounds and if you know the words sing out loud.”

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