Quebec Jazz and Heritage Festival to Include New Black Author Forum and Book Sale

For the first time in eight years of history Polyrhythms Bill Bell Jazz and Heritage Festivalthere will be a forum for black authors and a book fair during the event.

The forum (including a Q&A) will take place on Friday, August 19, 2022, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Ida Robinson Banquet Hall of the Martin Luther King Center, 630 9th St., Rock Island. Several of the authors will be selling their books outside during the festival on Saturday August 20 starting at noon.

The objectives of the forum and the authors’ fair are as follows:

  • Introducing the Quad-City community to local published authors.
  • Provide authors with a platform to sell their books, share their process and passion, and inspire future authors.
  • To continue to build on the Polyrhythms/Jazz & Heritage Festival mission to provide cultural and learning activities that enhance the quality of life for our audience/community.
  • Encourage mutual relations between authors and the community.
  • Promote community and family literacy.

Shellie Moore Guy, event organizer and co-founder of Polyrhythms, said Tuesday that the festival was always about encompassing and showcasing more than music.

“There is room for art, culture and literature of all kinds,” she said, noting that the festival has donated books to children in recent years.

“So it’s really a continuation,” Guy said, adding that organizing the authors was a team effort. “The desire to promote community literacy is not new. I think the idea came many years ago, we always planned to focus on literacy.

Judith Lewis of East Moline, author of “Watertown Memories”, is one of the black writers featured at the Jazz & Heritage Festival.

She is one of many African-American authors in the region and in 2019 published her first children’s book (based on East Moline-born jazz pianist and educator Bill Bell), “How Little Billy Learned to Play.” Guy plans to release his second children’s book in 2023, titled “The Family Tree.”

In addition to her, the Rock Island Black Authors Forum will feature the following writers with ties to QC:

  • Jasmine Babers
  • Torrian Ball
  • Aubrey Barnes
  • James Culver
  • Acie Earl
  • Pastor Dwight Ford
  • Evonnda Fulton
  • Amari Harris
  • Pastor P. Wonder Harris
  • Isis Hollingshed
  • Dr Pandora Lawrence
  • Judith Lewis
  • Newborn Kam (11 years old)
  • Newborn Kylee (15 years old)
  • Newborn Tamara
  • Nichole Collins Payney
  • Avery Pearl
  • Dr Burl Randolph
  • Nyilah Sulaimana
  • Trice of Chavaras
  • shonna tyson
  • Johnnie Woods

“Representation really matters,” Guy said Tuesday of recognizing authors of color. “We live in a time where we deliberately highlight diverse voices. So it’s very important for the community to know that there are other voices here. The same with the acting community and plays.

“I think we’re getting to this point, I believe, but it has to be intentional,” she said, emphasizing diversity, equity and inclusion. “These things don’t happen because we think they should. We’ve done it this way 15 times, so it should happen the 16th time. We must intentionally do the work. And so we hope that these authors will serve as an inspiration to children, African American adults and all other members of the community, who did not know that there was such talent here in the Quad Cities.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if this event and what we hope is, that this event will encourage new voices,” Guy said.

The QC Bill Bell Jazz & Heritage Festival is completely free — Friday, August 19 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, August 20 from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday, August 21 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Julien with Club Crib, Piso’s Cure, The Channel Cats, James Culver and Kuchina Jazz 3, Manuel Lopez & Daniel Leahy, Saul Lubaroff & Andy Parrott, and Charlotte Blu.

Friday and Saturday will be at Martin Luther King Park, 630 9th St., Rock Island, and Sunday at Becherer Hall Auditorium, Rivermont Collegiate, 1821 Sunset Drive, Bettendorf.

At MLK Park, entertainment includes family-friendly fare – a drumming circle and a strong youth educational component (Youth Showcase) around reading, drumming, dancing, art and performance.

A personal memoir in a new book

Shellie Moore Guy of Rock Island is a storyteller, performance artist, published poet and former Poet Laureate of the Quad Cities which uses self-expression as a tool for individual and community empowerment.

Shellie Moore Guy of Rock Island wrote the children’s book “How Little Billy Learned to Play” in honor of East Moline native Bill Bell.

His upcoming children’s book, “The Family Tree,” will focus on his family history on his father’s side, dating back to slavery in Kentucky and the Civil War era of the 1860s.

“I’m looking at all the information we’ve gathered about our great-great-grandfather, his brother, his sister, and his mother, who were slaves in Kentucky, and his life,” Guy said. “And we know what it is, because we have that in his story, his interview. combining what he told us, what he left us in his own words and story. It is a children’s book that will be based on this story.

His ancestors were members of the 108th Regiment United States Colored Troops, who were sent to Rock Island. The regiment guarded Confederate prisoners of war during the Civil War, at the Rock Island Arsenal POW camp from September 1864 to May 1865.

And when the war was over and slavery was banned, they came back to live here. Guy wanted to write in a children’s book format, knowing it would benefit all ages, but she wanted to start with children.

“We teach history and I think children can naturally take it in without prejudice,” she said. “I think that would be exciting. I hope it will be exciting for the children to know that this is a story – that this is a local story.

Guy works with new book illustrator Gwen Ballard Patton, who works at the Lincoln Resource Center in Davenport. “She’s an accomplished illustrator, so I’m very excited about it,” Guy said.

The illustrator for “Little Billy” was Marshall Pass, “who just did a phenomenal job,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be able to talk to local artists, and it goes back to our plan to showcase local talent.”

For more information on the Jazz and Heritage Festival, click HERE.

Ada J. Kenney