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Little Richard Mural Unveiled at MidCity – A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!

Good Golly, Miss Molly!

Hoping to avoid “slippin’ and slidin’,” friends, officials and family gathered Tuesday night in MidCity District for a special unveiling.

The crowd braved the threat of rain to celebrate the colorful tribute that will serve to forever immortalize the life and music of Richard Wayne Penniman, famously known to the world as “Little Richard.”

Hosted by the MidCity Development team and with the blessing of the Penniman family, the unveiling of artist Logan Tanner’s vibrant mural in a formal presentation will allow Little Richard’s story to live on in the form of a visual masterpiece.

“It is a special moment for the Penniman family,” said David Person, the family’s representative. “On behalf of the family, I would like to thank all of you for being here tonight.”

Oakwood University President Dr. Les Pollard and Dr. Carlton Byrd, senior pastor of Oakwood University Church, spoke of Richard, his faith, and his strong connection to the college and to Huntsville.

“Richard had a special place in this city” said Dr. Byrd. “He was a person you would never ever forget. And if he knew you, he never forgot you.”

In 1957, Little Richard answered a higher calling. A calling which brought him to Huntsville.

A larger-than-life mural at Wahlburgers in Huntsville’s MidCity District celebrates the larger-than-life persona of Little Richard. (Photo/Steve Babin)

It was here Richard enrolled at Oakwood University to study for the ministry. Richard was inspired by E.C. Ward, then pastor of Oakwood. Richard entered to learn, and he departed to serve by becoming a traveling evangelist.

As an ordained minister, he officiated the weddings of Tom Petty, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, and Little Steven Van Zandt.

As an entertainer with his glamorous sequin and rhinestone studded capes and suits, Richard was quite the visual showman as well as an exceptional performer. He was in the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as his career spanned seven decades. He was an inspiration to performers such as James Brown, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tina Turner.

Driving in from the east, the 40-foot-wide-by-30-foot-tall mural adorning the side of Wahlburgers at MidCity is impossible to miss.

Capturing the essence of Richard’s high-energy antics, the mural presents Little Richard at the peak of his popularity in the late 1950s. The colors are bold and bright, with contrasting hues of orange, yellow, teal, turquoise, with a touch of purple, all serving to convey the liveliness of Richard’s performances. The projection mapping display by LED Orange at the end of the presentation, brought the mural to life – in synch with his music.

It was said that Richard’s charisma also was the magnet that brought people to the word of God.

He was laid to rest at Oakwood Memorial Gardens Cemetery but his spirit will live on at MidCity.

 

 

 

 

MidCity District Adds 40-Foot Mural to Honor Little Richard

Good golly, MidCity!

MidCity District, the mixed-use development on University Drive, is adding a 40-foot by 30-foot mural of late rock ‘n’ roll icon Little Richard to its public mural gallery.

Born Richard Penniman and a graduate of Oakwood University, he devoted his life to music and his faith. Little Richard was a pioneer for living bold and was named “the architect of rock ‘n’ roll”. He died in May at the age of 87.

In a statement, his family said, “The family of Richard Penniman, known to the world as Little Richard, appreciates the extraordinary gesture by the RCP Companies and MidCity Huntsville to create a mural in tribute to our loved one. Richard had many fond memories of Huntsville.

“He loved his alma mater Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) and enjoyed his return visits to the college church, especially when his friend and mentor E.C. Ward was the senior pastor. Richard also enjoyed being one of the headliners for the 1994 Big Spring Jam. An estimated 15,000 fans attended his performance that night.”

He created the famous “Tutti Frutti” line, “A wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom,” while washing dishes in his home town of Macon, Ga., before he became a household name across the globe. He was among the first 10 inductees into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

“The idea of a Little Richard tribute was introduced by Bryan Mayo of Rocket CityScope; we decided to pursue artists immediately” said Max Grelier, co-founder of RCP Companies, the developer of MidCity District. “In a short amount of time we were able to connect with Little Richard’s family, get their blessing, secure a talented local artist, and allocate funding for this colorful addition to MidCity District.

The $850 million MidCity District development will include 350,000 square feet of retail, dining, and entertainment space; approximately 400,000 square feet of high-tech office space; 1,400 residential units; and approximately 650 hotel rooms.

“We are looking forward to unveiling this mural to our North Alabama community in several weeks,” said Grelier.

Artist Logan Tanner will paint the mural on the east-facing facade of the Wahlburgers building.  The project is expected to be completed in about four-five weeks, Tanner said.

Tanner has worked on murals throughout the Tennessee Valley including at Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment. His whimsical and vibrant style is a perfect match for Little Richard’s equally colorful legacy.

“As Richard’s survivors, we support any worthwhile effort to celebrate his legacy and innovative contributions to American music and culture,” the family’s statement said. “And we are very appreciative of the artistic efforts of Logan Tanner, the creator of the mural planned for MidCity Huntsville. Mr. Tanner’s art captures Richard’s vibrancy and creativity tastefully and with elegance.

“Thank you for this honor, and God bless you as you move forward with this tribute.”

School of Cyber Technology & Engineering Announces Funding

The Alabama School of Cyber Technology & Engineering has received $250,000 in new funds, according to an announcement Thursday.

To date, the school’s foundation has raised close to $11 million locally. The goal is to raise $35 million from throughout the state.

Facebook and a pair of Huntsville-based companies made the most-recent contributions.

Facebook, which is building a data center in Huntsville, donated $100,000; Sentar, with owners Peter and Karen Kiss, will contribute $100,000; and DESE Research President Michael Kirkpatrick announced a $50,000 contribution.

ASCTE President Matt Massey recognized Oakwood University and its President Dr. Leslie Pollard, who was in attendance at the announcement.

The school will open this fall at Oakwood, which is serving as the interim site for the first two years while the permanent location is built at the intersection of Bradford Drive and Wynn Drive in Cummings Research Park.

Construction is expected to be finished in the summer of 2022. Initial enrollment is approximately 100 students, with plans to expand to 300 in grades 9-12, with approximately half living on campus in dormitories.

Apartments.com: Huntsville Ranked No. 5 Among America’s Top Affordable College Towns

The Rocket City found itself near the top of another list and this one concerns the area’s future workforce.
According to Apartments.com, the nation’s most visited apartment site, Huntsville is ranked No. 5 among the nation’s top affordable college towns.
A city with no shortage of southern charm and intellectual values, Huntsville’s local schools are among the best in the state. Students interested in attending the historic Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville or Oakwood University are able to choose from more than 2,000 apartments at an average unit price of $826.
Apartments.com is sharing the top budget-friendly college cities ranked by average rent per unit and the amount of affordable housing options available based on a recent analysis from Apartments.com and parent company, CoStar Group.
The top four towns are:

1. Wichita, Kan.
Topping the list is a thriving cultural and economic hub full of energy and excitement. Students thinking of attending the flagship institution of Kansas’ biggest city – Wichita State University – have more than 1,115 rental options near campus with most of the popular dining, entertainment, and nightlife hotspots just a few miles down the road. With the average rent per unit at just $671, residents won’t have to break the bank. Faculty and other community members supporting the university can expect to pay 16% of their income on rent.

2. Tulsa, Okla.
With eight four-year colleges within 40 miles of Tulsa and nearly 3,000 apartment rentals available, students have a variety of options for not only where to attend school but also where to live. Less than three miles from Downtown Tulsa, the University of Tulsa is surrounded by a wide range of apartments, condos, and houses available for rent. With the average unit price at $694, students are able to find the perfect home at an affordable price with money left over for tuition, textbooks, and more.

3. Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, one of the least expensive metropolitan areas in the nation with residents spending just 18% of their income on rent, has been expanding in recent years. With the average rent per unit at just $756 and 1,533 rentals near Oklahoma State University, the neighborhoods that surround the campus are full of rental houses, apartments, and condos to fit any budget and within a short walk of the university.

4. Fargo, N.D.
The largest city in North Dakota ranks in the top four affordable college towns, with the average rent per unit averaging at $775 and residents spending 18% of income on rent. Students looking for somewhere unique and artistic with no shortage of things to do should consider North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, or Concordia College at Moorhead. With 1,720 rentals available near North Dakota State University, students looking to become part of the Thundering Herd will have plenty of options to find the perfect apartment.

 

No Wall Divides Huntsville as Neighbor Helps Neighbor During Shutdown

She’s recently divorced and lives in a 1-bedroom apartment.

Her ex-husband has custody of their children – though she sees them every weekend.

Due to our recent political climate, the dad – a government contractor – has been furloughed with a mortgage payment and kids to feed.

Mom reached out to her neighbors and friends via Facebook asking if they had “any extras in their pantry” to help make sure the kids are fed while her ex works – at a temp job – to keep a roof over their heads. And he feels lucky to have the job.

The friends and neighbors have answered with bags and boxes of canned goods, toiletries and other items to help during this stressful time.

This, unfortunately, is happening in all parts of Huntsville and Madison County and affecting all walks of life – supervisors, engineers, production workers, administrative personnel and custodial workers.

If you notice, I didn’t say “federal workers.” These folks work for companies that contract with federal agencies. They are furloughed because there is no money to pay them due to the shutdown. But, unlike federal workers, the contractors don’t receive back pay.

So, not only are some of our families, friends and neighbors in need of some help now, they will be until the shutdown ends and the money starts flowing.

In the meantime, help is coming from other directions.

Several banks and credit unions are offering furlough loans at 0 percent or a low percentage rate and some temp services have short-term employment opportunities.

Huntsville Utilities is asking customers who may have difficulty paying their bills due to the shutdown to give them a call, and they’ll work with customers and explain their options.

In a gesture reflecting its mission, Oakwood University’s farm is giving away fresh fruit, vegetables and grain this Saturday (Jan. 19) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to federal furloughed workers. It is first come, first served.

The website of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber has a news article on the agencies and businesses that are stepping up at www.hsvchamber.org.

If you are a business owner or know of someone who has services to offer, drop us a line here so we can let everyone know.

Let’s step up Huntsville and not let a wall separate us from our compassion for others.