From the Field to the Big House

  • May 21, 2023 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Stratford Hall

    483 Great House Road
    Stratford, Virginia 22520
Ticket Price Free This event is now over

Join us for a pay as you wish program highlighting the history of some of the enslaved communities at Stratford Hall. Historical interpreters Willie and Hope Wright, Harold Caldwell of Colonial Williamsburg, musician Slam Stewart, and Stratford Hall’s Resident Historical Interpreter Dontavius Williams will use storytelling to engage the public for this day-long program. 

This program is made possible with the generous support of Virginia Humanities.

From the Field to the Big House is part of a weekend of programming which also includes the African American Cemetery Symposium on Saturday, May 20th. 

Pre-registration is requested. Lodging available onsite at Stratford Hall: 

Dontavius Williams:  

Dontavius Williams is a proud graduate of Clinton College, an HBCU in Rock Hill, SC, and is the founder and CEO of The Chronicles of Adam. For over a decade, Dontavius has dedicated his life to the field of Public History, through storytelling, interpretation, and consulting.   His work was featured in the PBS documentary “Slavery and the Making of America” and the PBS program “Making it Grow”, among others. Recently, he launched a signature kitchen pepper spice blend, called Adam’s Kitchen Pepper, which is available on his website. Dontavius is a resident historical interpreter and hearth cook at Stratford Hall where he honors enslaved chef Cesar through his interpretation.

Willie Wright:

Willie Wright was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He moved to the mainland while still a toddler and was raised in New Jersey, New York, Washington DC, and Virginia. With family in Yorktown and Hampton, Willie was familiar with Colonial Williamsburg, but at the time he never imagined he would be working there. After working in a variety of other jobs, Willie came to Colonial Williamsburg in 2005 as an evening attendant and an orientation interpreter. The next year, Willie was one of the first Actor-Interpreters in the newly formed unit. He has been a part of the unit for over a decade, leaving briefly to portray William Lee at Mount Vernon from 2008-2011. In his time at Colonial Williamsburg Willie has portrayed a variety of free and enslaved Black men. He is also an accomplished drummer, writer, and storyteller. Willie especially loves interpreting to school groups and children visiting with their families.

Hope Wright:

Hope was born in Newport News and raised in Hampton, Virginia. She began her career at Colonial Williamsburg in the third grade as one of the first African American Junior Interpreters. She worked there steadily through grade school and after finishing high school she continued her work at Colonial Williamsburg while attending the College of William and Mary, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, in 1997. Hope began full time employment at the foundation the next year. In her time at Colonial Williamsburg, Hope has been an actress, storyteller, writer, researcher, and mentor to new employees.

Slam Stewart:

SLAM (drums, bass, and percussion) is a locally-popular drummer and music educator since 1991, having traveled across the US and internationally in the 90’s, performing with renowned artists such as American Blues Guitarist/singer/songwriter Deborah Coleman, Skeeter Brandon & Highway 61 (R&B groove), the Clay Motley Band, a nationwide group that begun locally, Caroline Hope & Taz (top 40 club band), and Jah Rasta (mainstream Reggae). As an advocate of “rhythm with musicality”. Slam is instrumental in developing “World Beat Rhythm” programs, that are designed to engage young people in interactive music/social activities to build cognitive skills and self-confidence.

Since 2004, Slam and his musician wife, Becky (piano/flute/singer-songwriter) perform as a Latin/Jazz duo and together they manage the day-to-day operations of their music business, SlamOne LLC in which they perform, record, teach, and help others to create and write music. SlamOne LLC has helped build and popularize many locally-known Fredericksburg, VA bands to include: Luminosity Funk Band, Merenje Marimba (Youth Marimba Band), SaborAfrocubano (World Beat), Sunset Syndicate (Pop/Funk), Sons of Solomon (Reggae), and Spanglish Latin American Band (Salsa/Latin).

For the 2021/2022 school year, SlamOne LLC was contracted by Stratford Hall, a National Historic Landmark in Montross, VA (the Lee family home), to teach the history of African music and drumming music to community and school groups who tour Stratford Hall. SlamOne LLC (Becky and Slam) is a corporate member and actively supports the local 501(C)(3) organization, Fredericksburg Jazz Collective, to advance live jazz music and to educate youth in jazz.

Slam is expert in a wide range of standard and Latin rhythms and is available to teach percussion, rudimental drumming, congas, bongos, and drum set lessons in Fredericksburg area private homes, at Picker’s Supply, or in his studio, Cut-Time Studio, located just east of Fredericksburg.

Date & Time

Sun, May 21, 2023 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Venue Details

Stratford Hall

483 Great House Road
Stratford, Virginia 22520 Stratford Hall
Stratford Hall Historic Preserve

Stratford Hall brings together people from around the world to experience two-thousand acres of natural and human history, preserved and presented so that we can all learn from the courageous struggles of our ancestors, taking inspiration both from what they endured and what they accomplished. There are few places in America where people can travel down small, rural roads to arrive at a vast site that preserves so many aspects of early-American life, from the Great House where the influential Lee family helped to forge a new nation, to the fields worked by enslaved Africans, to the waters of the rivers that fueled trade, to the ground, which still yields secrets about the people and animals that lived before.

Come experience this extraordinary place and learn about a layered history that began millions of years ago - a history that continues to educate, inspire, and influence Americans to the present day.

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