Hometown Heroes: Huntsville woman uses power of drums to save young men’s lives

More than 2,000 children - including Fasari Jones - have come through this program.

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 5:49 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 8:13 PM

At 1800 Jordan Lane in Huntsville, you feel the pulse of a community's drumline.

For many of these children, the Huntsville Community Drumline is actually a lifeline to stay out of trouble.

"(The drumline) keeps them off the street, and it's more than a drumline. It's like family," said Jessica Jones, a single parent whose son, Fasari, is a section leader in the drumline. "And, they have helped so much and he (Fasari) has come so far."

Fasari's father was a victim of murder and Jessica wanted to make sure he stayed out of trouble and didn't become a statistic like his dad.

"It's hard, you know?" said Jones. "So, it really makes me proud if he's out, he's being respectful, he's doing what he's supposed to do."

She credits the Huntsville Community Drumline for giving Fasari a safe haven. She gives even more credit to the drumline's founder, Angela Walker.

"I would say that drums are the tools that we use," said Walker. "Our ultimate goal, if they don't become drummers, if they don't become musicians, we're OK. We want them to become contributing members of our society."

Walker's passion for the Huntsville Community Drumline really started about 10 years ago when she read an article about a young man named Martin Lee who lost his life way too soon. She decided she needed to do something to save the lives of at-risk kids in the community.

"Now, I could sit there complaining all the time watching the news and wondering why didn't someone do something, why doesn't someone provide more programs, more activities, more things for kids to do?" said Walker. "And, then, it's like why can't you do it? And, I'm like, me, why me?"

Walker, a retired teacher, decided to get involved. She purchased a vacant warehouse and then opened Huntsville Community Drumline.

Since then, more than 2,000 children - including Fasari Jones - have come through this program. Some even received college music scholarships. They all learned the rhythm of life. 

"It does require a lot from them to work together as a team, and that's important because we eventually want them to have jobs," said Walker. "So, they're going to have to learn to work with somebody that you don't know that you will have to work with."

The program is popular. It has been introduced in a few Huntsville City Schools, like Highlands Elementary School. The principal of Highlands, Hovet Dixon, praised the program's special ability to lead by example and keep at-risk children out of trouble.

"We hold (the students) to high regard," said Dixon. "We see them out of line, we remind them that, hey, you have something that you love to do (Huntsville Community Drumline), and if that's something you love to do, we expect the same from both facets - whether you're in drumline getting that free service, or whether you're right here in this classroom. We're giving you something that will better your future."

The popular drumline has been able to remain in operation because of generous donations received from the community. Walker said its success is proof positive that it gives young men a fighting chance at a good life.

"It's a faith journey and God just has a way of working things out," said Walker. 

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