The classically trained violist was raised around music. There were guitars and drums all around the house and his earliest memories of his father, who was on tour when Williams was born, were of watching him play guitar. While he might have been born with music coursing through his DNA, Williams credits string programs in elementary and middle school with strengthening his passion for music.
That passion will be on display Saturday night when his band, Jerolyn, shares the Crimson Tiger stage with five other bands performing for the Rock is Art fundraiser, benefiting Anniston’s Cheaha Creative Arts, Inc. CCA is an afterschool arts education program located in the historic Kilby House beside Anniston High School that hosts classes in music, visual arts, sewing and quilting along with future plans for both ballet and yoga classes.
“This kind of (music program) is essential for kids,” Williams said. “I’m proud to help an organization like this because I came from an organization like this.”
Formed in 2007, Jerolyn is a “five-piece, melodic metalcore” band from Gadsden. And while they may be the “odd ball … metal-heads” in Saturday’s lineup that also includes Sensemakesdollars, Wa Wa Wa, The Polar Grizzlies, Drexel and Secondhand Jones, Williams is looking forward to hearing the variety of rock bands sharing the same stage.
“Diversity is always a good thing,” he said. “It expands our own musical horizons. If you stay within the same genre for too long, it’s easy to get stagnant. Shows like this help to keep us fresh.”
And there’s no real competition between the bands, with each bringing its own unique style to the show, says John Medders, guitarist/vocalist for the classic rock-influenced Secondhand Jones.
“For me, it’s not competitive at all,” he said. “This town is way too small for bands to be competitive. That’s just the hippie in me, but it makes me happy to see everyone coming together to play music … and the fact that it’s all for such a good cause makes it that much better.”
Founded by Rose Munford in September 2010, the goal of CCA is to use the arts to enrich the lives of young people by offering affordable classes taught by respected instructors. Whether it’s learning to play the violin or the piano, to sew or plié, these children are being welcomed into a world of possibilities that is quietly disappearing from the public school system, says Julie Brown, CCA marketing director.
“I am organizing this fundraiser because I believe this education program is a rare gem for Anniston,” she said. “Arts are the first thing to get cut from the budget at the school systems, and I really think the community will only thrive with arts in it.”
As president of CCA, Munford has witnessed firsthand the effect the arts has in the lives and outlooks of these children. In December, several students from the organization’s violin and piano classes performed a Christmas concert at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. In a sanctuary filled with proud parents and grandparents as well as community members, she saw the children come into their own. During that concert, the CCA made its name.
“Those children were so pleased with themselves,” Munford remembered. “Ever since that performance, we can see the maturity in their eyes — just the idea that they now see themselves as performers. It’s the kind of thing that changes lives.”
But to keep the programs afloat, CCA needs all the help in can get. That’s why fundraising events like Rock is Art is so vital.
“This isn’t a daycare. This isn’t a playground. This is a place for kids who really want to learn,” Munford said. “And right now, funds are really tight. The city gave us $5,000, but we always need more … hopefully, this concert will give us some breathing room.
“Every little bit helps because every little bit goes to those kids.”
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rock is Art
What: Benefit concert for Cheaha Creative Arts
When: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday
Where: Crimson Tiger, 1003 Noble St., Anniston
Cost: $5, ages 19 and up