From left, brothers Rocky and Rodney Duckworth are members of the DuckWorth Brothers Band, which will headline the SoWeGa Art Performance School's June 28 benefit to raise awareness on human trafficking. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)
SYLVESTER — Rocky and Rodney Duckworth of the DuckWorth Brothers Band are no strangers to making music. From playing with local churches and groups to global travels with musicians of every caliber, the Sylvester natives have dedicated their lives to the art of music and are now passing that knowledge to the next generation.
From traveling with their band SmokeDream, a self-dubbed ’70s rock band, to additional travels with other groups, musicians and technical production members, the Duckworth brothers have spent a lifetime learning everything there is to know about the music business and playing music in a variety of genres, from rock to country to contemporary Christian.
To listen to music by the DuckWorth Brothers Band click here.
But their latest venture at SoWeGa Arts is one the brothers say means the most to them. In a token of giving back, the DuckWorth Brothers Band will highlight SoWeGa Art’s June 28 benefit to raise awareness on human trafficking.
The band, which includes Rocky and Rodney Duckworth, Anthony Johnson Ted Stokes, and David “Spig” Davis, will be accompanied by students taught at the SoWeGa Arts Performance School in Sumner. Rocky Duckworth Jr. will also be a featured performer at the event.
The SoWeGa Arts Performance School provides students with musical education, free of charge. The only requirement is that students involve themselves in community service and community-oriented events, giving back some of what they have learned for the benefit of others.
The school, located in the old Sumner school building, is a retreat for aspiring students seeking a safe, creative outlet. From the facility’s social room, to its music room filled with instruments, equipment and learning materials, to its large performance auditorium, students have the opportunity to learn about everything involved with musical performance.
In addition to developing their skills on a variety of instruments, students also learn musical theory as well as technical production concepts as well.
“They are involved in every aspect of putting together a show, from production to performance,” Rocky Duckworth said. “They all participate and learn a little bit of everything, and it’s a good experience for them.”
Rocky noted that another benefit of the school is that he is able to introduce students to new music technologies used in bigger metropolitan cities that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see.
“Yeah, sure, there are other things we could be doing with our time,” Duckworth said. “But nothing means as much as this does. The payoff is totally worth it, because this is something that the kids can take with them. They will be able to use the skills they learn here for the rest of their lives and use them to help others as well.”
That’s a concept that has been a characteristic of the Duckworth brothers’ lives as well.
Ironically, the idea for SoWeGa Arts originated about six years ago, during a reunion of the SmokeDream band in Sumner. An event that was originally slated to be a small friends-and-family affair soon developed into an event the entire town came to enjoy.
Rocky and his wife, Dona, were approached about the idea of teaching students, and SoWeGa Arts was born.
Now the school teaches students from the surrounding Southwest Georgia area and provides regular family-friendly events.
“It’s a wonderful place for families to come together,” said Dona Duckworth. “There’s no smoking or alcohol, and it’s so nice to be able to gather with a few hundred of your closest friends for laughs and quality entertainment. It’s just a really good time.”
The focus of the June 28 event is to bring awareness of the danger of human trafficking, a growing problem that is quickly becoming more localized as crime increases.
“It may not be rampant here yet, as it is in bigger cities,” said Dona Duckworth, “but we should all be aware. We should never be so comfortable that we think, ‘It can’t happen here, or to me.' "
SoWeGa Art has partnered with ONEless Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing and helping victims of human trafficking, to create the fundraiser that will offer education and information on the issue, as well as provide help and advice for safety and prevention from attacks. The event is free of charge, but donations will be accepted.
Leslie Overby, U.S. operations director for ONEless Ministries in Nashville, will be in attendance to provide information at the event, which will be co-hosted by “Days of Our Lives” star Jen Lilley and FOX 31’s Kelly D’Ambrosio.
“We want people to realize that this is something they need to know about and know how to handle,” Dona Duckworth said. “Children can be taken from anywhere, not just big cities. But there is hope and help available.”
All funds raised at the event will be used to provide essential materials for victims of human trafficking, given to them at their time of rescue. The concert will take place June 28 at 7 p.m. at the Old Sumner School Building, located at 706 Walnut St. in Sumner. Doors open at 6 p.m., with a preshow at 6:30 p.m.
“A lot of times, these victims don’t have the clothes or basic items they need. It’s all taken away from them by their captors,” Dona Duckworth noted.
Currently, approximately 27 million people around the world are enslaved by human traffickers, seeking victims wherever they can, from runaways, abandoned children or simply those who think they have no hope or help elsewhere.
Information will also be provided for parents on how to protect their children from dangers associated with social media, including advice on blocking questionable websites and recognizing ways would-be perpetrators seek to lure and kidnap children. In addition, raffles will be conducted throughout the night, including prizes such as a lawn-care service certificate, a handmade quilt and an original oil painting by Albany resident Lisa Turpin.
Music selections for the night will be based on the event’s theme of help and hope, featuring both original creations and covers of songs such as the Beatles’ “Imagine,” Glen Campbell’s “Try A Little Kindness,” and the Los Lonely Boys’ “How Far is Heaven.”
“It worked out nicely that this event falls right before July 4, when we talk so much about freedom,” Rocky Duckworth said. “We’re talking about freedom on every scale, and we also plan to include some patriotic selections as well.”
Using lifelong-developed talents to teach, inspire and give back is the foundation of SoWeGa Arts Performance.
Life seems to have come full circle for the Duckworth brothers, and they couldn’t be happier. As he stands in the old Sumner school auditorium, where so many of his musical performances now take place, Rocky Duckworth recalls his first time on stage in that same auditorium – as a second-grade student.
“It was our Easter play, and I still remember my lines,” he said. “ ‘Easter comes but once a year, so let’s make the most of it while we’re here.’ ”
Those seem to be words that the DuckWorth Brothers Band and SoWeGa Art Performance live by, no matter what time of year.