CEELO GREEN JOINS PAINE COLLEGE

October 18, 2021

Singer Ceelo Green to aid Paine College as artist-in-residence, recruiter, supporter

Paine College added a big voice to its efforts to recruit new students and restore its fabled choir.

Grammy Award-winning singer CeeLo Green was the surprise guest at a student assembly Wednesday and will be taking on a musical and mentorship role with the historically black college and university.

Green described his position as a "visiting professor." Paine Vice President Helene Carter said Green's title will be the school's Distinguished Artist in Residence and will help with recruiting and development. The famed singer will also help redevelop the choir, which had received both local and national acclaim and at one time toured nationally, and give it back some of its national prominence, she said. Green said a more formal announcement about his role will come later.

Green is friends with some Paine alumni in Atlanta and, according to J.R. Henderson, a member of Paine's Board of Trustees, he saw an opportunity at Paine. "(Green) said, ‘I am really going to effectuate some positive change at Paine College,'"

Henderson said Paine has only recently emerged from accreditation problems caused in part by difficulties with funding and maintaining certain financial standards and handling external grants. But now administrators are looking to restore the glory that includes famed alumni like Civil Rights leader Joseph Lowery and novelist Frank Yerby.

Green, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, has had a string of hits both as a solo artist and as a member of the groups Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley. He has appeared in videos and movies and served as a celebrity judge on singing competition shows like "The Voice" for several years.

"I'm at a point in my career where philanthropy is my passion," Green said. "How can I give back? How can I show the appreciation for what I've been given?"

Decked out in purple and white Paine gear, the Atlanta native said he has a relative who attended Paine years before, and he visited the school as a child. But it is really the city that drew him back.

"I've always had an affinity for Augusta, Ga.," he said. "The city just speaks to me. Every time I cross that line into Augusta, Ga., something comes alive for me."

Or perhaps it is someone that is drawing him, Green joked.

"I call it the Ghost of James Brown, that's what I call it," he said. "I'm Soul Brother No. 2 if you ask me."

As someone who dropped out of high school and never got to go to college, "I have an affinity for education," Green said. "I come to aid and assist in every way possible."

That includes bringing more students to Paine.

"We want to see this gymnasium full," he said. "We want to see (enrollment) increase. We want to see success for our youth and for the future of our people. We want to see it transpire. We want to see it manifest and become a reality."

As for his musical influence on the school, "I want to be able to make your voices be more effective outside of these walls and outside of these limitations," Green said. "I believe that harmony is a vehicle to convey a message. I believe that all music, its origin and its intent is praise and acknowledgement."

It has a purpose, he said.

"How we can make songs about solution, songs about solidarity, songs about our strength, our plight and our perseverance," Green said. "How can we make those songs sound good and be effective and be influential."

He wants to be an influence with the students directly and get to know them and share his wisdom and experience.

"I want to be an encouragement," Green told the students. "I want to be a fire in your bones."

With his help, Paine, whose mascot is the lion, will mount its comeback, President Cheryl Evans Jones said.

"We are truly going to restore the roar and move Paine College forward," she said.

Tom Corwin Augusta Chronicle


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