Friday, July 11, 2014

Common is so unique

One of the many things I love about my job is that I can be sitting here plugging away on a project and all of the sudden I get an email inviting me to meet someone famous that I'm intrigued by.

That happened twice this week. One is a top designer whose name I can't mention because she's coming for a special invitation-only event. Her assistants asked me to not blog or Tweet about it beforehand. I will be blogging about it after the fact, though, so if your curiosity is raised, check back soon and I'll have the full scoop. 

The other is the Grammy award-winning musician and actor Common. At 7 p.m. on Oct. 2, he'll be speaking at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture's second annual Gantt Symposium at Knight Theater sponsored by Wells Fargo. 

From what I'm told, Common is known as the King of Conscious Hip-Hop. He's recorded nine studio albums, currently plays freed slave Elam Ferguson in the AMC historical drama series "Hell on Wheels" and has appeared in several motion pictures including "American Gangster" opposite Denzel Washington and "Wanted" opposite Angelina Jolie.  Common is also an author and philanthropist. He's released several children's books, as well as his memoir "One Day It'll All Make Sense." And he's launched the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to the empowerment and development of America's urban youth.

Common didn't register on my radar until my husband got me watching the excellent "Hell On Wheels," which is coming back soon for a fourth season. 

I'm drawn to the character Common plays because I like his storyline and I think  he's a terrific actor. He's handsome, too. I had no idea he was also an acclaimed musician and author until later. (The photo above is of Common in character on the set of the TV show.)

According to the Gantt Center, Common will talk about his journey from childhood to today and share defining moments that influenced the discovery of his voice, which he considers his tool for achieving professional success and creating social change. From Michael Jackson to Emmitt Till, he'll trace major influences on his path to discovering greatness with the hope of inspiring others.

In a statement, Gantt Center president and CEO David Taylor said, "Common's talk on greatness supports the Center's goal to mark our 40th anniversary by celebrating artists who use their work to create social change."

Tickets are $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers and $10 for students and are available at

If you're not a member of the center, this would be a great excuse to join. The center hosts a lot of interesting exhibits and events, and as a member you get special notifications, invitations and discounts. Plus, the center is in a major membership drive now. Duke Energy Foundation says it will donate $100,000 if the Center increases its membership rolls in the next year from about 700 people to 1,974 – a target pegged to the 1974 founding of the museum as the Afro-American Cultural Center.

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Archiguy said...

Love 'Hell on Wheels'! An excellent show too few people watch. And Common has been very good in it. I had no idea he was a rapper/musician in his "day job".