Once upon a time, I was a beginning saxophone student and my cousin, Kenneth "Kenny Ray" DeWalt, (right) was learning to play the trombone under the direction of Emerson Able Jr., at the famed Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee.
Cuz taught me to use a broom to help learn the keys on the sax. Then he worked with me on breathing correctly. All of that coupled with Band Director Kurl McKinney's instruction came in handy when the Lincoln Junior High School Band went to the Strawberry Festival in Humboldt, Tenn., back in the day. (See my band photo in the slideshow below).
Kenny Ray went on to become a professional horn player, performing with Rev. Al Green and The Bar-Kays, thanks in part to my mom, Mrs. Rowena Whiting, who bought him his first horn. She also prophesied that he would perform on "The Tonight Show." He didn't believe her and laughed. Years later he called my mom from "The Tonight Show" just before he performed!!
Meanwhile, in high school and college, I put the saxophone down and picked up a microphone, video camera, and other journalist’s tools. This is my Black History Month salute to my 54-year-old cousin, Kenny DeWalt, who shared insights with me about his amazing professional career during an interview Jan. 5, 2013, in Memphis.
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About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.