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Seymour brings musical wizardry to library

Last Saturday morning, much of Butler County woke to rain, thunder and those same old dull gray skies. Those who headed over to the Greenville-Butler County Public Library, however, were practically ‘dancing on sunshine’ as they boogied to the beat.

It was the grand finale of the library’s summer reading program, &uot;Step to the Beat – Read!&uot;

The final program offered everyone attending the chance to &uot;BE-AT Your Best&uot;, courtesy of versatile percussionist Mark Seymour. Seymour wowed young and old alike with a &uot;drum and music extravaganza&uot;, taking his audience on an amazing musical trip through time and across continents.

Singin’ and swingin’ with

Mr. Seymour

Seymour ably played a variety of instruments during his 50-minute set – everything from an ordinary five-gallon bucket and an onlooker’s shoe, to the more exotic Australian didgeridoo. Along the way, Seymour performed on keyboard, playfully demonstrated a variety of noisemakers and played dozens of different percussion instruments.

&uot;You know, the music that Beethoven and Mozart played hundreds of years ago is made up of the same notes in the songs you listen to today,&uot; Seymour explained to his rapt audience.

He kicked off the program with a &uot;mini-symphony&uot;, introducing the youngsters to the delights of classical music before going on to play jazz, country, rock, rap, pop, international and patriotic tunes.

Seymour delighted his listeners with several original compositions, including The Ruben Rap

(named in honor of Alabama’s own American Idol, Ruben Studdard) and The Alabama Song, in which he managed to name over 200 of the state’s cities in two and a half minutes.

The 70-plus youngsters, parents and grandparents in attendance all got to clap, wave, dance and sing along to such diverse tunes as You’re a Grand Old Flag, I’m a Believer, Who Let the Dogs Out and All-Star. Members of Georgiana’s Friendship Baptist Church Drill Team even got to be a starring part of the program as Seymour &uot;drummed&uot; their thoughts out loud, much to the amusement of the audience.

Music with a message

Seymour is a Nashville native who has performed for over a million people, has two decades of experience in the music industry.

He’s played drums for luminaries like Lori Morgan, Kitty Wells and Percy Sledge and been featured on Crook and Chase, People Magazine TV and CNN.

The Birmingham-based drummer decided to leave behind the bright lights of Music City in order to travel to schools, libraries and churches where he can share music with a message – the importance of character education.

Laced into Seymour’s amusing, energetic Greenville performance were lessons on self-discipline, respect, concentration and patriotism. His goal, he says, is to &uot;inspire children as well as touch their hearts.&uot;

Seymour also encouraged his listeners on Saturday to get off the couch, out of the house and see what’s out there.

&uot;You guys need to turn off that TV and get out and enjoy God’s beautiful sunshine – and the rain. Come to the library and find some good books. You can travel anywhere with books,&uot; he said.

After the program ended, &uot;Miss&uot; Jean Bauer, children’s librarian, had the children line up for bookmarks, frozen treats and their very own music-makers, colorful whistles (which many immediately put to the test).

The adults present seemed to appreciate Seymour’s performance as much as the youngsters.

&uot;I really didn’t know what to expect from the performance, but this was really just outstanding,&uot; Shirley Boutwell, library assistant, said.

Bauer was impressed to discover how many of the &uot;golden oldies&uot; were familiar to the children. &uot;Wow, these children really know all these songs,&uot; she said.

&uot;Wasn’t this fun? Boy, to have the energy he has,&uot; a delighted Sue Arnold (a.k.a. Jennifer Grace’s mom), exclaimed following Seymour’s performance.

The musician seemed equally impressed with his attentive, involved audience.

&uot;This was such a great group here today…I really had a blast,&uot; he said with a smile.

Seymour hopes to bring his musical showcase back to the area during the 2004-05 school year.

Bauer, who is an instructor at W.O. Parmer Elementary, said she is &uot;working on&uot; having Seymour come and perform for the school.

&uot;He’s great…and I am so pleased with the turnout we had today,&uot; Bauer said.

&uot;BE-AT Your Best&uot; wrapped up the latest summer reading program at the library. After the school year gets under way, &uot;Super Saturdays&uot; will return with a different theme each month. For more information about upcoming library events, contact the library at 382-3216.