Ms. Alfreta Ballard was lovingly selected, through an interview process carried out by a panel of PruittHealth – Athens Heritage partners, to be the recipient of her Second Wind Dream. When asked “What is something you have always wanted to accomplish?” her response was simple: “To perform songs I love for the people I love.” Ms. Ballard studied Performing Arts at The University of Georgia, with a focus in Opera. She also serves as a teacher of Music for Clarke Central Middle and High Schools from 1997-2007. Her biggest unfulfilled life dream was to perform an opera. Our team of partners set out to make this dream a reality. Step one in this process was to locate a voice instructor that would train Ms. Ballard for a five song opera. Dallas Bono, of Dallas Bono Voice Studio, took on the task, along with a piano accompanist, Christina Austin. Dallas and Christina worked with Ms. Ballard to identify five songs worthy of a performance by this talented and adored resident. The song dearest to her heart, entitled “On Ma Journey Now”, is an African Spiritual that is no longer in print. Dallas Bono and his team were able to locate a copy of the sheet music in a freestanding library of rare musical literature. What an accomplishment on such a short time schedule. The sheet music was located in time for her to practice the song for just one week before performing! In addition to voice lessons, Ms. Ballard was in need of a beautiful gown and accessories to wear for her debut. She was taken on a personal shopping trip and purchased a lovely gown with matching accessories that were sure to shine on stage. The day of she was pampered as she prepared for her big night. Her hair was styled, her make-up applied, her nails were polished, and her voice perfected: she was ready to be a STAR.
The performance was held at a familiar place; The Chapel at The University of Georgia. The Chapel was packed with all of her closest friends and family who were all eager to her the angelic sounds of the opera she would sing. The program consisted of “Ave Maria”, “O Mio Bambino Caro”, “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie”, “A City Called Heaven”, and “On Ma Journey Now”. It was no surprise when she received a standing ovation and an abundance of applause when the songs had ended. Ms. Ballard returned to PruittHealth – Athens Heritage where she was lead down the red carpet and into a reception held to commemorate her achievement! The red carpet was lined with partners, residents, and residents’ families clapping and cheering as she smiled and waved. The reception was laid out in purple and gold, her two favorite colors. Tables were draped with deep purple satin and refreshments were displayed on pedestals and crystal servers. Everyone mixed and mingled with Ms. Ballard the center of attention. At the end of the evening, our hearts were full to see Ms. Ballard so joyful.
This event could not have been possible without the help of several key contributors. Ashlynn Bone Photography for photographing the entire evening. Big Smif Productions for videography services. The Event Palette for the set-up of the reception. The University of Georgia for the use of The Chapel. Dallas Bono Voice Studio and Christina Austin for accompanying on the piano. All partners at PruittHealth – Athens Heritage for all miscellaneous duties, love, and support.