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Farrakhan to serenade the Motor City

Louis Eugene Wolcott  (now Louis Farrakhan) at age 19 in 1953, pictured with Horace Heidt, host of “The American Way” show.

Louis Eugene Wolcott (now Louis Farrakhan) at age 19 in 1953, pictured with Horace Heidt, host of “The American Way” show.

Louis Eugene Wolcott was a violin prodigy, who played with both the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony by the time he was only 13 years old. The charismatic youth continued to perform and win awards, expanding his repertoire to include singing and dancing. As a young adult, Wolcott earned a living as a calypso entertainer,performing under the monikers Calypso Gene and the Charmer.

In 1955, however, Wolcott discovered the Nation of Islam and the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, and Calypso Gene became Louis X. At the behest of the NOI, Louis X gave up a career in music to dedicate his life to Islam and serving African Americans.

The rest is history: Elijah Muhammad gave Louis the surname Farrakhan, and eventually Farrakhan became the leader of the Nation of Islam.

Min. Farrakhan returned to the concert stage in 1993 and has been performing occasionally since.

On May 18, Detroiters can hear what the New York Times said was the “sound … of the authentic player … wide, deep and full of the energy that makes the violin gleam,” when Min. Farrakhan performs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit).

Organizers say Tapestry: A Spiritual Odyssey will showcase the breadth of the artistic diaspora of African Americans through the diversity of genres from opera to jazz to classical music. In addition to Min. Farrakhan, soprano Louise Toppin, opera legend George Shirley, Michigan Opera Theater artists Kimwana Doner and Nick Davis, Detroit’s gospel pianist Alvin Waddles and Testimony, Rick Robinson’s CutTime String Quartet and many others will perform.

The event begins at 6 p.m. Ticket are $125 and include complimentary valet and refreshments; all proceeds benefit the Wright Museum.

Referring to the spiritual power of music, Min. Farrakhan intends to “do with music what cannot be done with words, and try to undo with music what words have done.”

For more information, visit thewright.org or call 313.494.5800.

— Staff report

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