Harmony in the Park returns to Bluff bandshell on Saturday

Published 1:20 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Harmony in the Park returns to the Bluff on Saturday with a musical lineup that its organizer said is the best they have ever had.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. and will continue to 7 p.m. at the bandstand on the Bluff. It is free and open to all with the goal of promoting unity in Natchez.

Greg Everhart, who took the reins of putting the event last year, said no worries in the event of rain.

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“We will just move to the upstairs at Locust Alley. There is plenty to room there,” he said. That was the location of last year’s event because of the weather.

The musical lineup is one put together to promote racial harmony, Everhart said. It includes The Lincoln Outfit, J.T. McCaffrey, Kimble Funchess Band, Keys versus Strings, N’Tune and Jamell Richardson.

“Jamell opened up for Patti LaBelle at the Blues and Soul Superbowl last year in Natchez,” Everhart said.

Harmony in the Park launched in 2019 and was the brainchild of several people, led by Natchez’s Jack Garraway Kelly, who was part of a unification committee during former Mayor Butch Brown’s administration.

“The unification committee that was an effort of the Chamber, had the purpose of bringing about racial harmony and unity,” Kelly said. “We were just about evenly balanced and it was a great group. We did a lot of hard work. We went into each other’s homes and talked about our prejudices. It brought about an understanding of each other.”

After Darryl Grennell became mayor, Kelly pitched the idea of a day in the park with music and food, all mean to promote harmony in an event to bridge any racial divide.

“I thought it should be a one-day event and not took costly. We brainstormed where to have it and Mayor Grennell suggested Jack Waite Park,” she said. “I fell in love with that park. There is not really a stage there, but it is beautiful with lots of little benches and lots of shade.”

The first Harmony in the Park was a success, but because of COVID, it wasn’t held again until April 2022. That’s when the weather moved it to the upstairs of Locust Alley, she said.

“The Bluff is the logical place to have it,” Kelly said. The Bluff has the bandstand and easy electrical access.

“My dream would be to have fundraisers and create a stage at Jack Waite Park and have wiring put in there. That park is so shady and nice. It would be the perfect venue.”

Regardless of the location, Kelly said, she hopes people will come out and support the event. She will not be there because of an illness.

“We have come so far in Natchez and unity here has made great strides in recent years,” she said. “We really are in harmony here.”