Former Miss America, singer, entertainer and actress Vanessa Williams was the featured artist as The Auntie Karen Foundation celebrated its 20th Anniversary last week.

On Thursday, Williams hosted a Master Class for students at Dreher High School. The annual event, held in partnership with Richland School District One, is designed to ignite students’ interest in the arts. During the Master Class, Williams listened to students perform her music, shared her experiences in the entertainment industry and answered the students’ questions. She also performed her hit song “Save The Best For Last.”

On Friday, Williams headlined the Auntie Karen Foundation’s 2021 Legends of… Concert, held at the Koger Center for the Arts. The concert opened with a special performance by the Auntie Karen Foundation All-Star Band. Williams performed with the Colour of Music Festival Orchestra, which is composed of classically trained Black musicians and composers affiliated with the University of South Carolina.

The concert was also a part of the Mahogany Music Festival, presented by the University of South Carolina School of Music. Since 2013, the Colour of Music Festival has brought classically trained Black musicians together to showcase classical composers and performers of African descent.

The Legends Of… Concert has traditionally been held in February during Black History Month. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it returned after a one-year hiatus. The Concert series profiles a jazz, rhythm and blues, or gospel artist who has made significant contributions to the history of music. Williams has had Top Ten hits in all of these music fields.

The concert is a fundraiser for the Auntie Karen Foundation, created by Karen Alexander-Banks. The foundation's mission is to create and implement a series of reproducible community outreach programs designed to empower, enlighten and educate through the arts.

“In 2001, I stepped out on faith by leaving my corporate job,” said Karen Alexander-Banks, founder of the Auntie Karen Foundation. “We are now living the dream I had twenty years ago.”

For future sponsorship opportunities or for more information, call (803) 748-7124 or visit www.auntiekaren.org

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