Our trip to Vanderbilt for Family Weekend 2016 was more about hanging out with the kid and his classmates. We made it to campus only once (family weekend is really for the freshman parents, lol) and that was for Vanderbilt’s program Strong Inside: Storytelling, Music and Performance. Last year we did not attend the student show which included the Meladores (Vandy’s acapella group). So this year we assumed they would be performing at the show..wrong. I need to read the fine print more carefully next time. This year’s show featured Vandy alum and author Andrew Maraniss and his book, Strong Inside . The story of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the SEC and Vanderbilt student. His courage, resiliency and character are tested as he faced racism both individual and institutional. Like Jackie Robinson, Perry was a reluctant pioneer of the civil rights movement. Far too often non-fiction books turn into a boring litany of facts and dates, Maraniss’s writing style and Wallace’s life story runs counter to this notion. Strong Inside is a very compelling read. (Addendum: Coming Fall 2017 Documentary on Perry Wallace)
Though the Meladores did not perform, I really enjoyed the show. Student performances of dance, poetry were bookended by Mr. Maraniss reading an excerpt from Strong Inside and Vandy alum country rocker, Marshall Chapman. Ms. Chapman read from her book, Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller and sang. I am a convert to her soulful music and her life story. Growing up in the South, she tells of the first time she saw Elvis. Seven years old and sitting in the town theatre smitten by the King. Touring with icons such as Jimmy Buffet, playing in honkey tonks, Marshall’s story is brought to life in her music and words. A wonderful storyteller and an amazing musician.
Being a Californian, I never thought my kids would end up in the South for school but life is full of surprises and it has given them and me the opportunity to experience a part of America that I would never have dreamed of.
Blaze of Glory Marshall Chapman