about Gullah culture and Beaufort, South Carolina!
Ron and Natalie met in the Spring of 1983 during Natalie's temporaryor
so she thoughtvisit to Beaufort to care for an ailing grandmother
who had recently relocated there. She heard Ron singing in a local
church, and after she had decided to stay for awhile, they began
singing in a contemporary Christian music quartet. In November 1985,
they married and have continued to be partners in every sense.
The couple's joint performances began à la Ruby Dee and
Ozzie Davis, presenting dramatizations with songs of poetry and
literature. Ron, a St. Helena Island, South Carolina native, and
Natalie, who hails from Syracuse, New York, soon afterward began
to tour their show "Sea Island Montage," an outgrowth of Ron's 1986
book, Reminiscences of Sea
Island Heritage. Their performance was based on stories
culled from oral histories of elderly St. Helena Island residents
Ron had documented while he was a reporter with The Beaufort
Gazette. The two performed nearly forgotten spirituals, told
tales of Gullah customs like "seekin' religion" in the wilderness,
and of Gullah folk medicine beliefs and superstitions. Their performances,
writings, and recordings validated the rich history of the Gullah
people to numerous audiences during nearly a decade.
In 1996, Governor of South Carolina David Beasley individually
presented Ron and Natalie with the Palmetto Awardthe highest
honor given by the state. In 1997 Ron and Natalie were the recipients
of the Folk Heritage Award given by the South Carolina Legislature.
The award recognizes lifetime achievement and the demonstration
of excellence in folk arts which have enriched the lives of the
people in their community and the state.
Gullah Gullah Island, the
Nick Jr. TV show in which the couple starred as "Miss Natalie" and
"Mr. Ron," was named as one of the 10 best children's shows by TV
Guide in 1996. In 1997 it was nominated for a daytime Emmy in the
outstanding preschool series category. The show has been twice nominated
for the NAACP Image Award and has won two Parent's Choice Awards.
Upon ending production of Gullah Gullah Island in 1997,
Ron and Natalie continued to captivate sold-out audiences throughout
the country as they toured the Gullah Gullah Island Live!
performance with Binyah Binyah Polliwog. They were donned "the Smashing
Pumpkins of the pre-school set!"
Individually and collectively, Ron and Natalie continue to believe
in, pursue and achieve dreams. Miss Natalie's
Workshop, featuring whimsical Gullah Island gifts and handcrafts
is maintained by Natalie. Products handpainted and handcrafted by
her are available here. In February 2000, Ron premiered Sweet
Surprises, a music production of original one-of-a-kind love
songs! Ron is creator, songwriter and star performer. The production,
available for bookings, is a "A Feel-Good Theatrical Celebration
of Love, Friendship, Passion and Joy!" For a sampler, go to What's
In Dream Seeds, their production-in-development, Ron and
Natalie delight audiences with songs and stories about the wonder
of making dreams come true!