By Curt Yeomans
Jonesboro resident, Ann Morrison, left work an hour early on Friday because she had to get to the Clayton County Performing Arts Center before 5 p.m.
Morrison, 50, was listening to the radio earlier in the week and heard an announcement that the renown Rhythm and Blues group, The Impressions, would be performing at the center on Saturday, at 8 p.m. R & B singer, Larissa Holiday, along with the jazz group, Rhapsody N Blues, also will perform.
Morrison's early departure from work Friday was necessary because she had been getting off work every day at 5 p.m., but she learned that was the same time the Performing Arts Center's box office closed. She was determined to see the group live.
Morrison vividly remembers listening to The Impressions as a child, and hearing the name brought back memories. She had not seen the group in concert since the days when lead singer Curtis Mayfield was with the front man.
"When I heard about it on the radio, I said to myself, 'Is that The Impressions that I know? I've got to go,' " said Morrison.
The concert is the kick-off to a local campaign to promote positive events and people in Clayton County. It is the result of a partnership among Clayton County Public Schools, Glenn Dowell, executive director of the Youth Empowerment Project, Inc., and Herb Cox, a founding member of the Cleftones, and president of Marquee Music and Entertainment.
A portion of the proceeds from the concert will be used to fund scholarships for Clayton County students.
"This was originally planned to be a celebration of the district keeping its [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] accreditation, but that didn't happen," said Dowell. "We're still going to celebrate the good things that are going on in this county, though. The school system just received accreditation from the Georgia Accrediting Commission, which is something positive ...
"We chose the title of the group's song, "People Get Ready" as the theme of the event, because people better get ready for the good days ahead of us," Dowell added.
Cox, who has known the members of The Impressions since the group was formed, said the group was chosen because of its credentials, which include membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The group also has received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Prestigious Pioneer Award.
The Impressions was founded by Mayfield and Jerry Butler in the late 1950s, with Sam Gooden and brothers, Arthur and Richard Brooks. Fred Cash replaced Butler in 1960. The membership changed over the years, with Gooden and Cash remaining the entire time. The current members are Gooden, Cash and Reginald Torian, who joined in the mid-1970s.
Over the years, the group has had such hits songs as "People Get Ready," "Keep on Pushing," "It's All Right," "We're a Winner," and "Gypsy Woman."
Mayfield left the group in 1970 to pursue a successful, solo career, with hits like the theme to "Superfly." He died in 1999, after having moved to the Atlanta area. More than a dozen members of his family will be in attendance at the Clayton County show on Saturday.
"The Mayfield family is to music what Martin Luther King's family is to Civil Rights," said Cox.
Tickets at the Performing Arts Center, located at 2530 Mt. Zion Parkway, in Jonesboro, are $25, $35 and $75, depending on the seating. The center's box office will open at noon for those who want to see the show, but still need tickets.