Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tennessee State University Professor Honors Negro Baseball League Star Henry Kimbro With New Book

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 2016) -- Tennessee State University Associate Professor Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton has labored for several years writing a new book celebrating her father, the late Negro Baseball League star Henry Kimbro.

            "Daddy's Scrapbook: Henry Kimbro of the Negro Baseball League, A Daughter's Perspective" is filled with personal observations, newspaper articles, and other items from Henry's glory days as a player for the NBL's Baltimore Elite Giants and Birmingham Black Barons. Shortly before her death, Harriet's Cuban-born mother gave Harriet a 60-year-old scrapbook her father had assembled during his life.

            "No one in my family ever saw the scrapbook with the exception of my mother," Harriet said with a smile. "When she placed it in my hands, she told me to do something with it. 'You know what to do,' she told me. The look she had on her face at that time was, 'I trust you.'"

            Harriet's efforts to honor her father started in 2003 with a challenging but successful campaign to have Henry inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Her book recalls a legendary outfielder once dubbed the "Black Ty Cobb" of the NBL. According to The New York Times, Henry played mostly with the Baltimore Elite Giants, with other stints at the Washington Elite Giants, the New York Black Yankees, and the Birmingham Black Barons. He played briefly for the Barons shortly before retiring in 1953. The Negro Leagues were disbanded in the 1960s when African-American players began joining Major League Baseball. Erbia C. Mendoza-Kimbro gave Harriet the scrapbook after Henry died in 1999.

            "Daddy's Scrapbook", which retails for $14.95, is available at and other major online retailers. For more information about the book, call (615) 963-5581 or send an e-mail inquiry to To learn more about Henry Kimbro, visit

            "It was a great joy to write this book because, through the process, I became good friends with other Negro League heroes such as Butch McCord, Jim Zapp, Shannon Jones, and Sydney Bunch, who knew and worked with my dad," Harriet added. "My siblings also contributed. The toughest part of the book was the chapter on my mom. I had a connection with her that most family members were not aware of. This book has given me peace with my mother's wish."
            Her heartfelt family tribute includes insights on Henry's Nashville upbringing, controversial off-the-field shenanigans, baseball stardom in Latin America, marriage to Erbia, role as the father of five children, and induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

            "My favorite story was when my father gave me a left-handed glove," noted Harriet, who wanted to show the humble side of a man who loved his wife and children. "I don't think he knew what an impact he had on a little girl's confidence, someone who loved learning how to play baseball alongside her brother. I look back and see a man ahead of his time in terms of gender equality, and I truly appreciate that."

            The professor also recounts other stories, both funny and sad, about her son's temporary disappearance at a hotel before the 1993 Baseball All-Star Game and her father's awkward courting of Erbia during visits to Cuba.
            "During their dates, he had to take her chaperones along with them and pay their tabs," Harriet laughed. "He would always smile or laugh when telling that story. He truly loved my mother."

            Harriet drew more quiet when talking emotionally about her mother, whose touching story is recounted halfway through the book. 

            "My mother was the foundation of our family," she said. "She was a very loving, caring and supportive person to her children. I can't remember anytime she wasn't there to see us participate, compete or complete an endeavor. For me, my mother was my first teacher. I was also my father's child in many ways because I inherited many of his ways both good and bad, but she made me more of a lady, too."

            Harriet also uses the book to recognize some of the individuals who helped Henry Kimbro succeed. She said her efforts to have her father posthumously inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of fame would not have been possible without the lobbying support of former Negro American League Manager Buck O'Neil, Canadian Major League Baseball star Larry Walker, former Nashville Sounds owner Larry Schmittou, and former Nashville Councilman Ronnie Greer. 

            "Daddy's Scrapbook" includes a host of pictures, including Henry's baseball days, family snapshots, and post-career activities in the latter part of his life. The last photo of Henry on Page 125 shows him waving a baseball cap at fans while being recognized at the 1993 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Baltimore. 

Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton
            "Before the game began, 24 surviving Negro League Baseball players were paraded onto the field wearing replicas of their team uniforms," Harriet remembered. "It was blistering that day, and I worried about the effects of the heat on those guys. As each player was introduced, a giant picture of them was shown on the scoreboard while the announcer described their accomplishments as a player. When it was my father's time, he stood up straight with a huge grin and tilted his Baltimore Elite Giants hat to the crowd. The crowd, I felt, gave him the loudest response because he had played for Baltimore, and he relished this, his finest hour."
            Harriet is an associate professor for Tennessee State University in Nashville. During her athletic career, Hamilton served as head coach in various sports and athletic director of Fisk University. She also has served as a professor for Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The author also chaired the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Committee and served on the ABA-USA Committee that selected the 1984 USA Olympic Gold Medal Women's Basketball Team. She has received awards from the Women's Sports Foundation; the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports (the Dr. Nell C. Jackson Award); Fisk University (Women of Prominence Award); and the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women (Hall of Fame inductee). 

            Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton is available for speaking and book-signing appearances. For more information, contact her at (615) 963-5581 or

Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton celebrates with Larry Walker, owner of the Old Negro League Baseball Shop in Nashville, during a recent book signing and NBL baseball memorabilia exhibition Tenn. (Photo by Chuck Whiting)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

'The Ryman Diaires' Play Coming to Bibb Center Near Dickson from April 28-May 8

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 2015) – Award-winning actor/playwright/director Tom Dolan and author/musician/educator Debbie Mathis Watts will portray Music City legends Captain Tom Ryman and Bettie Baugh Ryman in the multi-media musical stage play "The Ryman Diaries" from April 28-May 8 (Thursdays-Sundays) at the Bibb-White Bluff Civic Center.

          The shows will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. No shows will be offered Monday-Wednesday. Admission is $12. The Bibb Center is located at 10545 Old Charlotte Road in White Bluff, Tenn., near Dickson.

          Described as a 19th Century love story, "The Ryman Diaries" is a historical drama that depicts the life and times of Cumberland riverboat Captain Tom Ryman as told through the eyes of his wife, Bettie Baugh Ryman. The story covers 70 years of the couple's lives through film media, stage acting, and original musical numbers. It tells of their unlikely romance, marriage, entrepreneurship, raising seven children on a riverboat, ultimate success, Christian conversion at a tent meeting, and the building of the Union Gospel Tabernacle. 

Debbie Watts and Tom Dolan portray Captain Tom Ryman and his wife Bettie. (Photo from Debbie Watts)

          The play is based on Watts' book, with additional dialog from Dolan. The actors penned seven original songs for the production. Film clips feature flashbacks of young Bettie and historical stills provided by the Metro Archives. 

          "Both Bettie and Tom had the hearts of musicians, so it was totally fitting that they would play and sing," said Watts, a former producer for various shows on TNN: The Nashville Network. "They were true romantics who laid the musical foundation for Middle Tennessee." 

          A veteran educator, professional pianist-vocalist, and author, Watts' theatrical roles include Mollie in "Mousetrap" and Agnes in "I Do, I Do". Dolan has received national acclaim starring as Elwood P. Dowd in "Harvey", Dr. Albert Schweitzer in "Memoirs from Africa", and Sam Clemens in "Mark Twain Live". The actors also star in a new play in San Diego based on the lives of John and Lillie Spreckels.  

          To buy tickets for "The Ryman Diaries", call (615) 797-1154 or send an e-mail inquiry to To learn more about the play, visit

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mary Beth Cross to Release New EP 'Feels Like Home' on May 15

            DENVER (March 2016) – Award-winning folk-Americana artist Mary Beth Cross will release an eight-song  bluegrass EP on May 15 that celebrates the importance of home in the lives of average, everyday Americans.

            "Feels Like Home" will include original songs, as well as classics written and/or performed by legendary artists such as Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Garry White, Van Morrison, George Gershwin, and Dubose Heyward. The recording will spotlight Cross's soaring, pure-tone soprano vocals. It was produced by veteran banjoist Chris Pandolfi, who joins nationally respected musicians Jeremy Garrett on fiddle, Tyler Grant on guitar, and Adrian Engfer on bass. The EP is dedicated to her late nephew, Christopher Chmiel, who died unexpectedly in 2015.

            "My latest project will include cover songs that are part of the tapestry of my upbringing in Wisconsin, as well as originals that reflect my current home in Colorado," said Cross, whose last project, "Beyond Good and Evil", was named "2014 Folk-Country CD of the Year" by the National Traditional Country Music Association. "We went with less is more, taking an approach that feels live, acoustic, down-to-earth, and not too far from home. Good memories or sad memories are evoked by some of my favorite songs."

Mary Beth Cross (Photo by Katy Tartakoff)

            Cross plans to celebrate "Feels Like Home" with a listening party at Baur's listening room and the Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver. She will attend the IBMA conference and Bluegrass Ramble in Raleigh, N.C. Among the covers is "Kathy's Song", a classic written and recorded by folk-pop legend Paul Simon. To listen to a preview release of the song from the EP, visit

            Cross received national exposure in 2013 with release of her fourth CD, "Beyond Good and Evil". That project, which was produced by Dave Bechtel, landed a top-five ranking on Airplay Direct. Critics around the world praised the album, with Country Music News International calling it worthy of "Americana CD of the Year".

            “I’ve discovered that people are yearning to find acceptance and solace in a dizzying world of pressure-filled expectations,” Cross added. “People long for an authentic, non-formula approach.

            An accomplished vocalist and tunesmith, Cross moved to Denver in the 1980s to pursue a nursing career. Her music is influenced by the rural farmland and forests of her Wisconsin upbringing and the Rocky Mountains where she now resides. She carefully chooses acoustic instrumentation to bring her story-driven songs to life. Her music represents a few of the cultures that have contributed to what has become American music today.
            To learn more about Mary Beth Cross or her music, call (303) 842-1587, send an email message to, or visit or

Friday, March 4, 2016

Tin Pan South Fast Access Passes To Go On Sale March 8

     NASHVILLE -- The 24th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival Presented by Regions Bank is one of the most anticipated live music events in Nashville, and organizers have announced the popular Fast Access Passes will go on sale at 10 a.m. CST March 8, 2016 at

     The Festival is set to run April 5-9, and the Fast Access Passes allow patrons to bypass the cover charge at the door and allow advance seating (space permitting.) Quantities are limited, and last year's passes sold out in record time.

     Ten of Nashville's top music venues are set to host more than 350 songwriters performing 92 shows throughout the week. New to Tin Pan South this year, The Country and Whiskey Rhythm Saloon join perennial favorites 3rd & Lindsley, Blue Bar, The Bluebird Café, Commodore Grille, Douglas Corner Café, Hard Rock Café Nashville, The Listening Room Café and Station Inn.

     Produced by Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Tin Pan South reigns as the world's largest all-songwriter festival. Last year close to 350 talented songwriters performed 92 shows at ten of Nashville's top music venues. Thousands of music fans attend the event annually to hear songwriters tell stories behind hit songs they have written and perform the songs as they were originally composed. Regions Bank returns for the ninth year as the presenting sponsor of the event.

     For up-to-date lineups, tickets, venues, schedules and other festival information, visit Updates can also be found at,, and