B R E A K T H R U   M E D I A   D I G I T A L   M A G A Z I N E

May/June 2024
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A B O U T    U S
Cole Williams:
Giving Power To The People
Through Music
Living an Eventful Life: 
Dean M. Shapiro 
Reflects On A Long Career In The Media And Freelance Writing
By Anita Oubre
By BreakthruMedia Staff Report
Bringing Joy to his Musical Followers
Lee Barnes of The New Orleans Mystics 
Reflects On His Mission
When his friends tell Dean M. Shapiro that he should write a book about his life, his answer is always the same. “If I did that, the bookstores would have to put it in the Fiction Section. No one would believe it!”
An eyewitness to history in the making and even an occasional participant in some of that history, Dean has led an eventful life since August 28, 1963. That’s when, as a 13-year-old, he walked proudly with his parents and siblings and 250,000 other people during the landmark March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Later on, as a career journalist in print and electronic media, he witnessed, wrote about and participated in other history making events. 
In January 2020, on Martin Luther King Day, Cole Williams met an influential man who would become what she called “a game-changer” in her life.  As she described it, “I was singing two songs at an MLK Day celebration. Aſter the last song, this Black man with a cane dressed in all white with white hair and a beard walked up to me and asked, ‘Why did you sing that song?’ I think it was ‘Wade in the Water’ and I told him ‘I like it. It brings people together and makes me feel good.’”Continuing, Cole said, “He didn’t tell me who he was right away, but he started asking questions like ‘What causes are you passionate about? If you had to pick any segment of the population that’s at the bottom, who would you pick?’ I told him the homeless people, and he replied, ‘Okay, so what do think we can do for homeless people?’ I said, if it was up to me, I would use my giſt, which is singing, and maybe give them a concert under the bridge since we should be upliſting people through music. 
When doing something you love brings you immense joy, you continue striving to seek that joy. For Lee Barnes, a founding member of The New Orleans Mystics vocal group, that joy is found in performing.
Singing since he was a young child, Lee remembers the first roar of applause at an elementary school performance.
“I was a hardheaded child and I refused to be in the choir, but I could sing. I sang in the Christmas pageant, and I was not happy about that. My mom made me do it and I wowed them with ‘O Holy Night’ and that was a game changer for me,” laughed Lee. Intrigued with music, Lee remembers eagerly anticipating the television show “American Bandstand” each Saturday morning. He loved watching the performers and knew he also wanted to perform.

By Dean M. Shapiro