We often hear the term "give me my flowers while I live."  I do my best to let my loved ones know how much I love and appreciate them every day. Today, I have a flower delivery for Willie Williams.

Willie Williams is one of the most intriguing people in West Alabama.  He has a voice that  moves mountains with a personality that warms hearts.  I first met Willie while visiting my brother who was a freshman at Stillman College. Upon meeting Willie, I instantly knew why he and my brother became good friends. Their upbringings had a number of remarkable similarities.

Once I came to Stillman, I became better acquainted with Willie.  He became more like a big brother to me. We had numerous discussions, mainly about spiritual matters and relationships.  He saw me at my worst when I was straight up reckless, and I witnessed him fall in and out of love.  We also attended the same church. So, we saw each other grow into more mature adults over the years.

It never fails that when my friends see me, they make fun of the way I talk on the air.  In all fairness, I also make fun of them for what they do professionally.  Well, last year, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. invited me to be the Mistress of Ceremonies for their Ann Owen Gordon Oratorical Contest. Willie Williams happened to be one of the judges.  I must admit that I was so impressed with the professional development of my friend that I kept his bio (as well as those of the other judges: Mr. Romel Gibson, Mr. Tyrone Jones, Dr. B. Joyce Stallworth and Mrs. Shurrun Varner).  It was stated:

Mr. Willie E. Williams, Jr. joined the faculty of the University of West Alabama in 2009 and is now Director of Choral Activities/Assistant Professor of Speech & Theatre.  Mr. Williams, a Tuscaloosa native, is a 2001 graduate of Stillman College and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Vocal Music Performance.  As an undergraduate, Willie traveled extensively with Stillman's renowned Tour Choir and distinguished himself as a student conductor and actor.  Willie later earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre: Acting Pedagogy in 2009 from the University of Alabama where he also received the U.A. Critic's Choice Best Actor Award for his performance of Jake in Side Show.

 

While at the University of Alabama, he served as graduate teaching assistant and appeared in such theatre productions as Amen Corner, Ragtime, Hamlet, Grapes of Wrath, The Heiress (Dr. Austin Sloper), and Shakespeare's Henry V (King Charles VI).  Willie has also been featured numerous times as Henry Wells, from Face in the Courthouse Window, produced by the Alabama Arts Council, First National Bank of Central Alabama, and the City of Carrollton.

 

In 2013, Willie was featured on an episode of the Travel Channel's "Monumental Mysteries" as Wells. Willie co-starred in Theatre Tuscaloosa's production of Ain't Misbehavin' at the Bean-Brown Theater located at Shelton State Community College.  Williams acted as Music Director for "Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963," a staged reading presented in conjunction with Theater for Young Audiences/USA and Project 1 VOICE, which was also produced by Theatre Tuscaloosa.

 

Willie considers himself to be a product of fine teaching and is personally committed to his students' holistic growth. This past spring, he and his students produced the fourth annual African-American History Celebration, "Legacy Celebration 2013," on the campus of The University of West Alabama.

All of this?  The same silly Willie with whom I share a laugh when we catch eye contact at a moment when someone does something hilariously unexpected?  It was the same guy!

Well, in recent casual conversation, he brought up a tribute to Andrae Crouch that he'd planned for the University of West Alabama.  My immediate response was, "You should've put me on the program!  I would have loved to have been a part."  To this, he replied, "Come on!"  So, I did.

Last night was one of remembrance, fellowship, praise, and fun!  I had a great time introducing other performers such as vocalist Diva Hall and dancer Priscilla Young. In one moment, I sat and reflected on everything that was taking place.  I saw my sister-in-law singing on stage beside Willie, with my brother on the drums. I witnessed the various talents of my friends and looked into the audience into the proud faces of our supporters.  This was one moment in my life that I'll never forget, all because of Mr. Willie Williams being who he is and pulling upon those he knew he could count on to deliver what he needed.