RIEDC Director Keith Stokes Will Unveil Plaque Honoring Sissieretta Jones in Providence Saturday

May 10, 2012 [Providence] Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) Executive Director Keith W. Stokes will unveil a historic plaque to honor the late African American soprano Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones, once the highest paid and most famous African American singer in the world, on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. in Providence. The ceremony, hosted by The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society (RIBHS) and the Providence Parks and Recreation Department, is free and open to the public.

“I’m pleased to be participating Saturday in the unveiling of the historic plaque honoring Sissieretta Jones,” Stokes said. “As executive director of the RIEDC, I work on matters related to the business of Rhode Island tourism every day.

Stokes continued: “In this role, I have the opportunity to consider not only conventional tourist attractions, but also the fragile evidence of our state’s fascinating cultural heritage.”

The unveiling will include remarks from author Maureen Lee—whose new biography, Sissieretta Jones: “The Greatest Singer of Her Race,” 1868-1933 was recently published by the University of South Carolina Press. Attendees will also hear from Rhode Island Black Heritage Society President Joyce Stevos and Stokes, a native of Newport.

“Visitors to and residents of Providence have a great deal to gain from the city itself,” Stokes said. “As a historian, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than taking part in this ceremony.”

Those wishing to attend should assemble at 10:00 a.m. at the south end of Roger Williams Park on North Main Street in Providence. After a short procession, the plaque dedication ceremony and unveiling will take place at the intersection of South Court and Pratt Streets, just east of Benefit Street on Providence’s East Side.

The Saturday morning event will follow Friday evening events honoring Jones, who lived in Rhode Island for fifty-seven years, and welcoming author Maureen Lee back to her home state to celebrate the book’s publication.

The weekend tribute begins Friday May 11th at 5:00 p.m. with a free reception, featuring Maureen Lee, hosted by RIBHS at Loominous Rug Studio, 122 North Main Street in Providence. A free book party and recital will follow at The First Baptist Church in America, 75 North Main Street in Providence. The recital begins at 7:00 p.m. and will feature introductory remarks from Lee and musical selections performed by Providence soprano Julianna Tauschinger-Dempsey accompanied by Brown University Director of Choral Activities Louis Frederick Jodry. Signed hardcover advance copies of Maureen Lee’s book will be available for $39.00.

All of these events are free and open to the public. To RSVP, please email will@rickmangroup.com or call 401-421-0606.

For information on how to support The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, please visit our new website at www.ribhs.org or call 401-421-0606.

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