The Auntie Karen Foundation will be hosting the “Legends of…” Concert on Feb. 25 at the Koger Center with Grammy nominated artists Jeffrey Osborne and Lalah Hathaway headlining the event.
The Auntie Karen Foundation is a nonprofit based out of Columbia whose goal is to foster creativity and empowerment in local communities. It was started in 2001 by Karen Alexander-Banks to bring a positive impact to children through the arts.
The "Legends of..." Concert will be a showcase of Black artists with proceeds from the concert and following auction going to the Auntie Karen Foundation and the numerous programs within it, including the Young Entrepreneurs program.
Sergio Hudson, who used to design Alexander-Banks' outfits for the "Legends of..." Concert and is a graduate of the young entrepreneurs program, works as a fashion designer in New York and has designed outfits for Michelle Obama and Beyonce.
Hudson also made headlines recently for being featured in the South Carolina African American History Calendar alongside Alexander-Banks. The calendar celebrates Black people who have made contributions to healthcare in South Carolina.
Many graduates of the Young Entrepreneurs program have gone on to notable futures, due to the funding from the annual "Legends of..." Concert and auction.
Hathaway has performed for the foundation before during one of their previous "Legends of..." concerts, but this will be Osborne's first time performing for the foundation.
Hathaway is a singer originally from Chicago, Illinois. She was born in 1968 and attended the Berklee College of Music. In 2019, she was nominated to win a Grammy for Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Osborne is an American R&B musician who first got into performing when he was 15 years old. Since then, he has had four Grammy nominations and released the international hit "On the wings of love" in 1982.
Osborne will also be teaching a masterclass afterwards, specifically for children.
Alexander-Banks said anywhere from 400 to 600 kids from across the state will get to have a session with the artist.
“My whole purpose was to make sure that people got exposed to and educated about these artists. And so, the masterclass concept for us is that the artist does a class strictly for kids," Alexander-Banks said.
The foundation has also partnered with the Richland Country School District One to allow their students to attend.
“It's almost better than a concert because you get to see the children interact to this music that they sometimes say their grandmothers used to play,” said Deborah Breedlove, a newly appointed board member of the foundation.
People have come from out of state to see this concert in past years, even from as far as Minnesota. In the past, locals who came for the concert have stayed involved regularly.
Barbara Bowmen, a co-chairperson of Auntie Karen Foundation, drove an hour and a half to see Diana Reeves 19 years ago after she heard Reeves was performing at the Koger Center.
“I saw all of the production, and I always, not so much look at the music, but look at the efforts and all of what it takes to put on a production. And so, I was intrigued by that. I was just fascinated by the fact that here it is, this person — I wanted to know who was behind all of that,” Breedlove said.
Bowmen said she called Alexander-Banks and asked how she could become involved in the foundation a few days later because of how inspired she was by the concert.
Tickets for the concert are available now and can be bought on the Auntie Karen Foundation website.