Hats and the Magnolia Singers

I wish I had been bold enough to ask the pastor, Rev. Dr. Ella F. Busby of the Goodwill Presbyterian Church if I could take a few photos during the fundraising concert they sponsored with the Goodwill Educational & Historical Society yesterday, July 4th, 2015.  I wrongly assumed there would be plenty of promotional material to copy from the internet. There is stuff out there about Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers, just not in the context of what I experienced yesterday.  That’s a shame because this group has been together for close to 20 years and puts on a program that is not only professional, but genuine. 

When invited to attend this event by a Camden Writer whose family is closely aligned with the restoration of the historic Goodwill School, I thought the concert would be held in the newly restored building.  Lucky for me, the concert took place in the sanctuary of the church.

I admit the draw for me was the music to be presented…spirituals related to the history of this building.  And, a desire to absorb something uniquely Southern, as a non-native trying to understand this very different-to-me culture. What I didn’t expect was this magical melding of format with venue that resulted in having ‘church’ on Saturday.  Past joining present, complete with a fine BBQ pot-luck served afterwards.

During our eating time, I sat next to one of the Magnolia Singers, Yvonne Brown.

Yvonne Brown, Magnolia Singer who makes hats

Yvonne Brown, Magnolia Singer who makes hats

She wore two of her own hat creations during the concert and I got to talk with her about them.  In particular, my own lament about how I can’t wear hats because of my smaller-than-normal sized adult head. To my delight, she promptly took off her hat for me to try. Turns out she started her hat-making venture because she too has a small sized head.

Thank you, Yvonne for sharing your hat with me.

Thank you, Yvonne for sharing your hat with me.


Thus reminding me of a poem I wrote a few years ago…

It's all about the hat!

It’s all about the hat!





I want to find a hat that’s me
That fits my pea-sized head, you see.
One that’s pleased to cup my brain
Capturing colors

of notes unplayed
harmonies untasted

Rhythms twisting in and out

around the Crevace
between the Hemispheres.


I want to find a hat that speaks to me
And shouts out about a life that’s free.

And fine
And mine.

14 thoughts on “Hats and the Magnolia Singers

  1. deborahbrasket

    I love to see people wearing hats and admire their ability to do so. For some reason I feel silly when I try to do so. I don’t have the fashion confidence to pull it off I guess.

  2. Lillian Batarseh

    Interesting poem about an ordinary object. Very original. A tip of my poet hat to you, Laura!

    1. laura bruno lilly Post author

      I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. To me, a hat is extra-ordinary since it’s not something I can wear as noted in the poem!

      So, I carefully take a bow with a virtual Hat in hand and say, “Thank you, ma’am.”

  3. L. Marie

    Loved your poem! I love hats!! I love crocheting them. Yvonne’s hat is gorgeous!
    I never heard of the Magnolia Singers, but I wold love to hear their music!

    1. laura bruno lilly Post author

      The group is based out of Charleston, and has traveled some. While they have done a few performances in DC and Chicago…I think their music and message could easily fill auditoriums/churches across the country.

      So, you’re a hat lady, eh? Gifting crocheted hats to those you love. Nice. Those lacey yet close fitting caps are quite the fashion these days.

  4. Bill Remmes

    Thank you for your kind review of Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers. I am always inspired by and grateful for the group’s performance. I am pleased that you had such an enjoyable afternoon. Please return when we have other performances.
    Bill Remmes

    1. laura bruno lilly Post author

      You are more than welcome, Bill.
      I failed to mention however, the grand performance you gave while joining in the freedom march around the church as the Magnolia Singers Finale!
      Best wishes on a successful restoration.


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