Frost Illustrated Staff Report
FORT WAYNE—He’s performed at the famed Apollo Theater in New York, shared the stage with some of the world’s top show business luminaries including people like Lionel Hampton, sat at the kitchen table and discussed songwriting with Billie Holiday; he’s served as a central city economic development advocate, worked as a union pioneer and been the first person of color to hold numerous positions in industry; he’s been an entrepreneur running a number of businesses including one of Fort Wayne’s landmark record shops, a record company, a unique shoe shine and repair business, and helped a number of talented young people develop their skills to the point of notoriety through his Talent Factory.
He’s Fort Wayne’s own legend Al Stiles.
At 5 p.m., July 6, the Give God an Opportunity Mass Choir is scheduled to preset an Al Stiles Musical Appreciation Celebration at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 3404 Chestnut Street.
Robert Taylor, one of the organizers and director of the choir, said they will performing most of the music for the evening along with other guest musical contributors. Also, a number of speakers, including Chief Condra Ridley, will be on hand to pay tribute to the legendary Al Stiles and honoring him for his contributions.
Through his innovative Al Stiles’ Talent Factory, he taught generations of young performers more than the technical aspects of music, dance, singing and theater. He taught them the importance of being on time, presentable and professional in their work—in other words, how to conduct themselves as responsible young people and later adults.
At age 92, Stiles is still very much involved with trying to teach people how to be better not just as entertainers but in life.
“Mr. Stiles keeps a plan. He’s always working on something,” said Ridley. “You have to appreciate his zeal. Mr. Stiles has managed to keep alive the ‘class’ in performance. That was his effort—to teach young people that class and style that was part of the performance ethic that was around in the ’40s and ’50s when he was a young man.”
For more information about the Al Stiles Musical Appreciation Celebration, call Robert Taylor at (260) 602-7616.
This article originally appeared in the June 26 print edition.