Originally created 09/01/02

Bettis Music Fest outlasts rain



Light rain and mid-70s temperatures were a cool complement to the sizzling array of performances at Saturday's Bettis Music Fest in Trenton, S.C.

Headlined by Meli'sa Morgan, a 1980s Top-10 hit maker, the fourth annual festival also featured gospel, comedy, dance and hip-hop acts, along with food and arts and crafts vendors.

Organizer Cynthia Green ensured the show's continuation regardless of the wet weather.

"Rain or shine, it's all about everyone having a great time," she said.

Sponsored by the Mt. Cannan Association Inc., the event was started to raise funds to build an elderly care facility for Trenton-area residents, Mrs. Green said.

"It's for their support when they need it most. Seniors either live substantially or so poor; they're resigned to undesirable living conditions. There's no happy medium." A new facility could cost about $1.4 million, she said.

Lois Hightower Jackson was part of the 1952 class of Bettis Academy, the last class to graduate from the school, which was founded in 1881.

"There's a lot of pride on these grounds," she said. During segregation, the rural campus educated black students from primary grades through the junior college level.

Mildred Ford, a 1943 alumna, earned degrees from Benedict College, Temple University and the University of Chicago. She enjoyed the music as she watched her great-granddaughter playing with an umbrella.

"These are my roots here, and I like what's happening today," she said.

Ms. Morgan is a native of the Queens borough of New York, but she visited Aiken relatives during her childhood.

"I've always enjoyed coming here. The South is so positive," said the former Chaka Khan backup singer, who had a 1986 cover hit with Do Me Baby, penned by Prince.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.