By Amber Kennedy

Tidewater Arts Outreach will honor longtime Old Dominion University professor Bill Whitehurst at its Once More Concert on April 6.

The concert recognizes four Hampton Roads residents as inspirations to the community. Each "inspiration" was paired with a songwriter from the region who turned their life stories into original songs. Their work will culminate in the concert at 5:30 p.m. at Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach.

Whitehurst, affectionately known at ODU as "Dr. Bill," worked with Myra Smith-Jones - who goes by the stage name "The Phoenix" - and Bryan Austin. The former congressman joined the faculty of the then-Norfolk division of the College of William & Mary to teach history in 1950 and was appointed dean of students of the newly named Old Dominion College in 1962. He left the University to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1987 and returned to teach until his retirement in 2020. In a Monarch Magazine profile, he estimated he's taught more than 12,000 students.

"We are beyond thrilled to finally bring this event to life in person," said Kate Powell, executive director of Tidewater Arts Outreach. "The inaugural event was to be in March 2020 but had to be pushed back and eventually put in the virtual environment later that year. We were able to produce it again virtually in 2021 but are thoroughly excited to finally bring it back to a live, in-person performance."

The other artists and inspirations are:

  • Mary Brewer, longtime Virginia Beach resident, honored by Lewis McGehee.
  • Lillie Gilbert, a prolific author on outdoor sports and former owner of Wild River Outfitters, honored by Valerie Morales of La Selecta radio.
  • Evoria Moring, a longtime volunteer with the Portsmouth Senior Station, honored by Tina Micula.

Tidewater Arts Outreach aims to bring joy to older adults and those living in isolating circumstances, enhancing their well-being through creative engagement with the arts.

More information about the concert can be found at Tickets are available here.

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