Anti-bullying event Aug. 18

An anti-bullying event with video, live music and powerful messages is planned Tuesday, Aug. 18, at the Cleburne County Fairgrounds in Heber Springs.

Memphis native Brenda O’Brien’s musical roots run deep. Her father, Morris Berger, owned the famed Plantation Inn Nightclub across the Mississippi river in West Memphis, where legends such as jazz greats Phineas and Calvin Newborn, Hi Records mastermind Willie Mitchell, soul sensation Isaac Hayes and many others got their start. O’Brien lived upstairs from the club growing up, meeting the likes of Henry Mancini, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, comedian Red Foxx and others musicians and celebrities who frequented the nightclub that many say was the breeding ground for what became known as “The Memphis Sound.”

Now a songwriter living in Boca Raton, Fla., and president of the Memphis-based Pancho’s Mexican Foods, Inc., O’Brien returns to Arkansas on Aug. 18 for “Remember – Unite Against Bullying,” co-hosted by Heber Springs’ Teen Recruiters, a local youth non-profit that works to create platforms for teens to give back to their community, and Speak Life, a program developed to help not only children that have been bullied but to help those who have bullied.   

The free event begins at 6:30 with an opening performance from The Imagine That Band.

Having previously written and recorded a song and video titled “Two Kings” (about Elvis Presley and Dr. Martin Luther King) with country superstar Pam Tillis and a then-little known Memphis R&B singer, Kris Thomas, a graduate of Memphis’ Stax Music Academy and later a top ten contestant on the television show The Voice, she first recruited Thomas again for the project, once Florida songwriter/performer Steve Argy put the lyrics to music. Sarah Simmons, another Memphian who appeared on The Voice added vocals, as did South Florida contestant Karina Iglesias. She also recruited the Grammy-nominated Memphis singer Wendy Moten, and students of the Stax Music Academy, who were recorded for the song and video at Willie Mitchell’s famed Royal Studio, where Al Green recorded all of his smash hits in the 1970s. Stax Music Academy Artistic Director Justin Merrick also added vocals to the song.

To cap the Memphis connection off, O’Brien added the late Isaac Hayes’ eight-year-old son Kojo Hayes to the video component of the project. It was Hayes’ job performing at the Plantation Inn that eventually got him in the door at Stax Records, where he became one of the most successful songwriters and recording artists in history.

The original “Remember: Unite Against Bullying” video will be presented at the Heber Springs event. The live music portion of the night will reunite almost all of the original artists and a film from “Remember’s” 2014 debut ceremony in Boca Raton will be shown.

For more information, please contact Barbara Owens at 501.238.2413.