Kheris Rogers’ music tackles issues involving complexion and colorism in the community. (Courtesy photo)
The stage is produced by Creator of The School Tour, Randy Hankins
Children’s World returns to Taste of Soul, October 15, featuring a dynamic array of youth and young adult performances. This popular stage will be produced by veteran Randy Hankins, who has been offering his School Tour productions since January 2004 and presenting at Taste of Soul for fourteen of the festival’s seventeen years.
As Danny Bakewell, Sr. notes, “At Taste of Soul, it’s about FREE FAMILY FUN. It’s a festival for all ages! That’s why, every year, we bring Children’s World to the Shaw with talented children from our community performing on stage, and activities for children. They are our future.”
Hankins started The School Tour offering what he coined “Lunch Takeovers” at local elementary, middle and high schools that would highlight independent entertainment acts and educational presentations about important topics like obesity and bullying. So popular were they, Hankins’ assemblies would often serve as rewards for students who earned good grades and achieved perfect attendance.
Having navigated a series of charming—in retrospect—teachable experiences in his early days, including booking more acts than his stage time could hold and exuberantly pumping up the sound beyond the maximum wattage in response to the clamor of hyped-up audience members, Hankins has fine-tuned his productions over the years, and, alongside business partner Chris Roker, has become a favorite at local schools, parks, and various county fairs.
The School Tour has put on as many as 207 shows in one year, and it always makes youth and their development the cornerstone of their work. Hankins even occasionally serves as a confidante for some troubled students at schools the organization frequents.
“We try to be engaged and talk to them about staying in school and doing the right things,” said Hankins, who will frequently allow audience members to come on stage and showcase their talents in dance contests and a capella performances.
“We try to encourage them that anything that is done on the stage…these are jobs these students can actually do as a profession later on in life.”
One of Hankins’ favorite places to inspire and celebrate the gifts of young people is Taste of Soul.
“What I love about it is the whole experience of our people just getting together and having the best one day of togetherness we could probably have…” Hankins said.
“There’s all types of different music and all the food, the brilliant networking that people are able to do. When it’s over, some people make new relationships, and just to see everybody’s faces enjoying themselves… they have a great, great time, every time that they come over. There is so much diversity of what somebody can do, a great presentation of everything, whether it’s music or all the other vendors… it’s unbelievable. I’m certainly excited about getting out there.”
This year’s lineup at Children’s World will include, among its many vibrant acts:
-R&B Singer/Rapper Heaven Ava
-R&B Group X
-The Pacesetters Drill & Drum Squad
-R&B Singer/ Dancer Ivan
-R&B Singer Kheris Rogers
Bmikerob, Boomer of BoomSquad and Lue Productions are among the hosts.
Through these acts, young people watching have an opportunity to see what is possible in their own lives with continued hard work and education.
In this way, Taste of Soul’s Children’s World and Hankin’s productions create the perfect marriage of entertainment because their fundamental values are simpatico.
Learn more at www.theschooltour.com, tasteofsoulla.com, facebook.com/tasteofsoulla, twitter.com/@tasteofsoulla, instagram.com/tos_streetfestla.