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NO FEAR FOR FREEDOM:
The Story Of The Friendship 9

NO FEAR FOR FREEDOM the Musical

The Story of the Friendship 9

 

A Simply Creative Works Production

Co-creators Kimberly P. Johnson and Bruce McKagan

Kashaad Kraus, Director • Amber Westbrook, Costume Designer/Choreographer

Support for this project is provided by the Arts Council of York County Small Grants Program, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC, and the SC Arts Commission, which received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

We hope you were able to join us to witness a part of history that helped change the direction of the Civil Rights Movement. The musical, No Fear for Freedom, retells the 1961 story of nine brave young men who stood up for justice and equality in Rock Hill, SC. Their premise of Jail, No Bail helped shift the Civil Rights Movement into a new direction and challenged a community to rise up and answer the call for equality and human justice. This riveting story takes the audience back to a time when injustices were the norm and freedom was the plea. Don’t miss this powerful performance full of original songs and messages that prove, nonviolence can create change!

 

 

The Friendship 9 finally received their justice as they re-entered the courtroom in January 2015 to have their records vacated after 54 years!

 
Martin Luther King, Jr. was right : The Universe is on the side of justice.

 

Watch this video to experience the finale of one of the premiere performances.

Our Cast Members

Kashaad Kraus

Director

Kashaad Kraus is a recent Theatre Performance graduate from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.  He has been a part of many productions ranging from Marisol, Body Maps (work-shopped by Tim Miller), and The Importance of Being Earnest, as well directing Hush, Little Baby.  He is currently the Production and Stage Manager for the OnQ Theatre Company in Charlotte. No Fear For Freedom the Musical serves as Kashaad's first time to work with Bruce and Kimberly, and he’s extremely grateful for the opportunity to direct this wonderful story. He’d like to thank God, family, friends, and his beautiful fiancée Amber for all the support and guidance that’s been provided. 

Amber Westbrook

Costumer Designer

Amber Westbrook is a Winthrop University graduate from Charleston, SC. She has been involved in shows such as O Guru Guru Guru, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Chicago, Hairspray, The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea, Marisol, and Body Maps (workshop with Tim Miller). She is very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of No Fear for Freedom the Musical. She would like to thank the Lord for the many blessings in her life, her family for all of their support, and her fiancé, Kashaad, for always being there through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Taylor Spencer

Mama Lucy

Taylor Spencer, a South Carolina native, is delighted to portray Mommy Lucy in this production of No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9. Taylor thoroughly enjoys acting, dancing and singing and has performed a plethora of solos and in choirs and plays alike since the age of 5. Taylor graduated Cum Laude from Winthrop University and currently loves teaching her 3rd graders the importance of valuing themselves. Taylor spends additional time teaching Zumba and writing books! Recently she co-authored No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9 Instructional Guide and believes it is so important that stories like the Friendship 9 are not only told, but “they should be taught so that everyone can become students to indulge in the stories that will prevent us from taking advantage of the opportunities and relationships we have today. It’s not a black and white thing, it’s a human thing.”

Hope McFadden

Whitney

Hope McFadden, of Rock Hill, SC, is 12 years old and attends Castle Heights Middle School.  She gained her love for acting and dancing as a student of Northside of School of Arts. Hope is a member of Speak Life Dance Team.  She is a very outgoing and energetic person. In her free time, she loves to write and draw. She also enjoys playing basketball and softball.  

Christopher Spence

Member of the Friendship 9

Christopher B. Spence was born into a family of singers from Great Falls, SC. He began singing in his home church, Rossville A.M.E. Zion, at the tender age of 3. Christopher has an uncanny ability to connect with the audience while performing.  In October 2011, he was cast in his first play, “Why Can’t I Get Married?” Next, he appeared in “My Husband’s Woman” and currently rehearses for a historic musical entitled “The Evolution of Black Gospel Music.” Christopher is a graduate of Winthrop University where he earned a degree in Special Education. Christopher has opened for national recording artists such as Forever Jones, Jessica Reedy, Lisa Mclendon, and Tamela Mann. “I am honored to be chosen to help resurface and retell such a powerful story- one that was swept under the rug for so many years! It's amazing to see God at work through us in this musical and how He has placed each of us together for this purpose! This has been an extremely humbling experience!"

C. T. Kirk

Member of the Friendship 9

C.T. Kirk was born and raised in Rock Hill, SC to Pastor James and Minister James Stover. C.T. is a 1998 graduate of Rock Hill High School, the Governor's School of the Arts, York Technical College, and currently finishing up his Education degree at the University of Phoenix.  C.T. discovered his love for acting in the second grade when he starred in the school's Nativity play. Since then C.T. has starred in many plays in school, community theaters, and traveling Gospel shows. In 2009, C.T. along with 10 members founded the Sanctuary of Life Outreach Center aka The SOLO Center. The ministry focuses on a family environment and community outreach and has growth both physically and spiritually in the last six years. C.T. is married to the lovely Lady Monique Durham-Kirk and they have three children, Anela, Brendan, and Kyndall.

Royal Blake

Member of the Friendship 9

Royal Blake was born  in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He is a devoted husband  and father of two boys.  Royal attended Rock Hill High School, York technical college as well as The  Applied  Technology Center. He obtained a Certificate in Visual Communication /Telecommunications and has since spent time as a songwriter, musician and music producer. Royal currently shares his talents as a sound technician and camera operator at The Sanctuary of Life Outreach Center. He considers participation in this musical to be an honor. “I believe deep in my heart that what the Friendship 9 did was truly a big part of Rock Hill history  that should  forever  be remembered.” He is a firm believer in Martin Luther King Junior’s ideology that “faith is taking the first step when you don't see the whole staircase.” 

Joshua Dantzler

Member of the Friendship 9

Joshua Dantzler is a sophomore at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, SC. He enjoys singing and acting.  Past productions that Joshua has participated in include Aladdin, Jr., High School Musical, Jr., Thoroughly Modern Milie, Jr., and "10": A Music Revue.  When Joshua isn't acting, he can be found spending time with his family and friends.  He finds his inspiration for doing the show in his favorite scripture, Philippines  4:13  "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me." Joshua would like to thank his parents and sisters for their never ending support. He would also like to thank the members of the friendship 9 for their courageous act for freedom.

Marlos Barnette

Member of the Friendship 9

Marlos Barnette was born in Rock Hill, SC and has a twin named Carlos. He has another brother named Corie.  Marlos is married to his beautiful wife, Latoya.  He is a minister and enjoys volunteering and coaching. In his spare time, Marlos works as a free-lance photographer and someday hopes to turn that interest into an active career.  "I'm excited about doing this show because I feel the sacrifice these nine young men made was not in vain. It changed some people's outlook on what courage truly looks like."

Miguel McDonald

Member of the Friendship 9

Miguel McDonald was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in Brooklyn New York and now resides in Rock Hill, SC.  He is married to his lovely wife, Latoya McDonald and he is the father of Jasiah McDonald.  In his spare time, Miguel enjoys travelling and playing sports.  "No Fear for Freedom the musical"  is the first production he has participated in but he has really enjoyed the experience.  He would like to thank the men whose lives made this production possible, and his theatre family for welcoming him.

Aaron Eichelberger

Member of the Friendship 9

Aaron Eichelberger is a December 2014 graduate of Winthrop University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He considers himself to be "a manifestation of the efforts of the Friendship Nine." Aaron believes that "in a world where the intersection of Black and Male hold negative, sometimes even fatal, implications; the story of the Friendship 9 calls black men to remember the strength and power afforded to them.  It is this story and countless others that have progressed my community to this point. The recollection of such has a potential for a strength and unity that can push Black, Brown, and other marginalized groups to further seek equality and harmony."

Sedrick Andre' Singletary

Member of the Friendship 9

Sedrick Singletary is a native of Harleyville, South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He later relocated to Rock Hill, South Carolina in pursuit of a Master of Education Degree in School Counseling at Winthrop University. Sedrick is currently employed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and serves as a High School Counselor. "I am elated to be a part of this production. It is a humbling experience to be able to recreate the strength and resilience that was demonstrated by these men 54 years ago and, to once again let their voices, some of which are now silenced, be heard! I am forever grateful."

Devante Sanders

Member of the Friendship 9

Devante Sanders born March 19 1992. From Rock Hill, Sc. Attended Rock Hill High class of 2010. Enjoys reading and personal development.  S member of Team National marketing and I also substitute teach. I mentor young males and participate in various activities at church concerning the youth.

E. Michelle Perry

Michelle is a graduate of Winthrop University. She currently works as a Market Pricing Analyst for a truck manufacturer in Fort Mill,S.C.  She serves on the ministerial staff and in other capacities at her church, Sanctuary of Life Outreach Center. Michelle has a passion for helping others. She has served as a volunteer for many organizations with the most current being Safe Passage and Fort Mill Schools Mentor. She has two daughters and enjoys spending time with her family, shopping and traveling. "I believe the Friendship 9 were truly an epitome of the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'" 

Tiffonda Thornton

Tiffonda Thornton is a student at York Technical College, working towards an AA in Criminal Justice, graduating in April of this year. She is recognized on the President’s List for outstanding scholastic achievement.  In May of this year, Tiffonda will attend Columbia College in pursuit of a BA in Leadership and Communication.  In addition to school, Tiffonda is a writer and speaker who devotes her time educating, encouraging, and inspiring women. She currently resides in Fort Mill, SC with her husband, Rashan, and their son, Carson. “This is my gift, a way to express gratitude, to all of the amazing African Americans that dared to break boundaries. This gift is wrapped in decorative paper and finished with a bright bow on the top.  The gift is telling the story.  This gift simply says Thank You!”

Italya Potts

It is rare to find someone that is born with the natural ability to captivate an audience. Italya Potts has displayed her ability to do so since childhood. Born in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C., it was obvious since the age of 2 that Italya possessed a true God-given gift.  Upon hearing her voice, it is easy to see that some of her early musical influences were vocal powerhouse such as Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, and The Pace Sisters.  Even at a young age, Italya has had experience honing hers skills while performing on a local basis, and even opening for (and performing with) national artists such as Kenny Curry & Nu Spirit and Al Boyd. Italya is determined to not only inspire people with her music, but through the example of her life as well.

Jamese Blake

Jamese Blake is a 26 year old native of Rock Hill, SC, born to Minister of Music James and Executive Pastor Brenda Stover. She is the wife of Royal Blake and together they have two handsome sons, Semaj and Julius Blake.  Jamese is a graduate of York Technical College where she earned an Associates of Applied Science degree in General Management. She currently works at Piedmont Medical Center.  Jamese serves as the Dance Director of Speak Life Dance Ministry and has background in Advanced Drama in which she was awarded “Best Actress” in 2005.  “Why is this production important to me?  Because I am all about an opportunity to make a difference and  let my light shine so that people can see the glory of God.”

Molly Brackett

Molly Brackett sang with the Charlotte Children’s Choir for four years.  She has played Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods, Jr. at the FM Community Playhouse and Scuttle in Little Mermaid, Jr. and Fern in Charlotte’s Web at the Rock Hill Community Theater.  She has sung two professionally-recorded songs “Snow” by Tommy DeCarlo and “Sisters” by Bruce McKagan.  She uses her voice for good whenever possible.

Jurnee Ingram

Jurnee Grace Ingram is a 6th grade student at AJ Middle School. She is a part of drama focus, serves as a class representative and an honor student. She is presently acting in an upcoming movie entitled "Proverbs". Jurnee has performed in "Peter Pan" at HSE and "Into the Woods" at Fort Mill Community Playhouse. She also performed the role of "Scout" in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Flounder" in The Little Mermaid". Jurnee loves singing and acting!  

Jagger Gestson

Jagger Gestson has been in the Entertainment Industry since graduating from the Art Institute of Seattle in 1997 with his Audio Engineering degree.  Running a production studio in Charlotte, Overflow Studios, and co-owing a music management team, SuperNova Ent, Jagger has enjoyed many music successes since re-locating to North Carolina in the year 2000.  National Television exposure on Fox Sports in 2010 (NASCAR), sold out performances at the state’s largest Casino upon his return to his hometown of Seattle, daily airplay on KISS 95.1’s  “The O-Show” from 2009-2011, and opening up for acts ranging from Twista, Tech N9ne, and Ray J to Yolanda Adams & Fred Hammond.  Having more recently played a role in the production “All That Drama” in 2014,  Jagger is excited to be back on stage and again working with Kimberly and Bruce. "It’s important that we look back and continue to celebrate and recognize the sacrifices that were made yesterday, which brought us to where we are today.  So often, it’s too easily forgotten what those went through before us.  I’m extremely grateful for them and am honored to help carry their message and story forward."

Charlie Bridges

Charlie Bridges is a 7th grader at Castle Heights Middle School in Rock Hill, SC. He has participated in several community theater productions, beginning at the age of six. He loves baseball, especially pitching and first base. Charlie is grateful to be working with this great group of people to tell such an important story. 

Savannah Bridges

Savannah Bridges is a sophomore at Rock Hill High School. She most recently played Edna in "Hairspray" and Glory in "Almost, Maine", for which she won an acting award from the South Carolina Theatre Association. She is currently playing Audrey in RHHS's "Maybe Baby It's You!".   Savannah has been active in theatre since she was 7 years old. "I'm extremely honored to be a part of telling this story. The Friendship 9 were courageous boys who changed our world and it's time to repay them."

Harold White

Harold Gene White III is a licensed insurance agent for Primerica Financial Services. He enjoys singing, coaching, and spending time with his wife and kids. Harold is known for his role as the Wickersham Brothers in Seussical the Musical and singing on the gospel choir. Harold pays homage to the Friendship 9 for their service and sacrifice to act out against injustice. Harold wishes to thank his wife, Julisa, and his children for loving and supporting him, as well as his close family members and friends.

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