Above: Karen Brown, left, and granddaughter Ashton O’Bryan, a senior at Central Hinds Academy, speak with Hinds Community College fine arts instructor Lee McCarty at the 2023 inaugural Fine Arts Day-Raymond Campus.
Mike Moore of Brandon has a smooth baritone speaking voice, which is the thing that brought him to Hinds Community College’s Raymond Campus recently.
He participated in Fine Arts Day 2023 – a new event inviting high school students to the Raymond Campus to see first-hand what classes are like.
But at age 65, Moore is not a traditional prospect. He recently retired from a 45-year career as a certified public accountant in Memphis and moved back home to Mississippi.
“People at my new church kept telling me I had a nice voice and they wanted me to sing in the choir,” Moore said after a breakout session where prospects had the chance to practice with Hinds choir members. “But after I started rehearsing with them I thought, ‘Hey these guys sound great.’ I knew I didn’t sound as good, so I am looking into the fine arts program here and thinking about taking some music courses part-time.”
There are two choral ensembles at Hinds – the Collegiate Choir and the Hinds Harmony Choir. The Collegiate Choir is the largest choir at Hinds and the best fit for most students. Hinds Harmony is the premiere ensemble for experienced choral singers who learn challenging choral literature from the Renaissance to the present.
Mike Moore, 65, of Madison, practices with the Hinds Collegiate Choir.
Karen Brown brought her granddaughter Ashton O’Bryan, a senior at Central Hinds Academy, to the Fine Arts event because she said O’Bryan is a gifted artist and she is encouraging her to join the Arts and Humanities Pathways program Hinds offers.
“She’s been saying she was going into radiology,” Brown said, “but I asked her about art because she really is an artist, and she really is good, too. She said art was her passion but radiology would support her. I am encouraging her to go with her passion.
“And, Mr. McCarty reassured us when we met him – he talked about all of the real-world opportunities for artists and he gave her a lot of insight into the difference between majoring in fine art versus graphic art – it was very helpful to us because I don’t think she realized what all was out there.”
Fine Arts Day was a demonstration of the full roster of arts and entertainment studies offered at Hinds. Fine and Performing Arts Director Shane Sprayberry spoke to participants before the breakout sessions touting the value students and parents get by starting their university careers at Hinds.
“We are the only community college in the state that offers every discipline in fine arts curriculum,” Sprayberry said. Sprayberry listed the annual tuitions of Mississippi’s major universities, comparing them to the course work offered at Hinds for a quarter of the cost.
Parents were invited to a special breakout session where they could talk with instructors and other Hinds officials and ask questions. Current students and arts instructors gave mini-lectures and demonstrations. Arts instructor Lee McCarty gave a ceramics demonstration with raw clay and showed them the magic of the spinning wheel.
Students were able to see into the workings of a recording studio. Musical prospects got to practice with the Hinds band, dance prospects were in Bee Hall with the Hinds Hi-Steppers during a rehearsal, drawing and painting prospects sat in on a still life class using charcoal and graphite and mingled with other artists.
Theatre arts instructor Alison Stafford showed students the magical illusion of the kick stance, the fake choke-out and fake hair pulling technics she teaches in Stage Combat – a discipline which creates the illusion of a real fight.
The fine arts programs at Hinds Community College offers individual auditions and appointments upon request, as well as campus tours.