Out & About

Latimore: Fostering connections formed during my youth

During my high school years, I had a very adventurous friend by the name of Shannon Baker. As teenagers, we definitely had our share of fun.

As we all know, there are always consequences to enjoying life. While we mature, we may take a second thought to those circumstances. In the meantime, we only live once.

I met Shannon during my junior high school year. I had transferred from Central High to Northeast Comprehensive High, and we clicked, as if we had been childhood friends. I can remember her introducing me to Wilson Grey, and that’s when the our craziness was taken to the third power.

Outside of our daring shenanigans, we did act civilized and do ordinary things like visit each other’s houses, watch TV, talk on the phone and babysit our younger siblings. For years, until we grew up and went on separate paths, we were almost like family members.

I met so many friends through Shannon because she was more of an extrovert than I was. Often times, I run into her father, Mr. James Baker, who terrified me as a youth with his loud voice.

Nowadays, he is one of my largest supporters. He will give me accolades on my work in the community, especially as a poet and writer. It definitely feels rewarding and motivates me, when my elders pat me on the back.

Shannon also had an older brother who would dart in and out of the house, and run us out of the basement, which was his man cave. Recently, I re-connected with James Baker Jr., who works in the trucking industry. He moved away from Macon quite a while ago. Outside of trucking, he has started a company called JWE Entertainment Inc. While others sometimes forget about their hometowns, he feels the need to book shows in Macon.

He has partnered with another Macon native by the name of William Adams, and Elad Hasut from Israel to form JWE Entertainment. Their first Macon show is coming up Saturday at the City Auditorium featuring the comedian and syndicated on-air personality Rickey Smiley.

IHeartmedia is a media partner because they run Rickey Smiley’s show on WIBB 97.9 FM, one of their cluster stations. So, go out and support your native home fellows. They will be bringing more shows in the future. Just listen and look out for JWE Entertainment.

Of course, JWE Entertainment started big because they want to expose Macon to some of the world’s best entertainers. Although they will host shows all over the nation, James Baker Jr. and William Adams feel responsible to give back to a community that played such an essential role in their upbringing.

Without being raised by such a village, they wouldn’t be inspired to act and dream outside of the box.

They both drive trucks and travel all over the nation. Their livelihood goes hand in hand with their passion of forming an entertainment company. Their partner, Elad, is essential to the business with his international influence and outlook. As travelers, they can constantly make connections to book venues elsewhere. As truckers who make a decent amount of money, they can pool some of their resources with investors and eventually receive major sponsorships as they build their reputation as promoters.

Even though I haven’t seen Shannon in years -- except online through social media -- our connection continues as I network with her family. Once strong foundations are built, they can hold up relationships as small as a shack and as extreme as a skyscraper.

The moral of this story is a reminder to take advantage of your relationships and resources. Those connections can blossom into your largest support groups in life. Most of us strive to make a difference as we race to survive in life.

The “Strictly Comedy: An Evening with Rickey Smiley” show will put a lot of smiles on the faces of Middle Georgia. Doors open 7 p.m. Saturday, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$60 and can be purchased at the Macon Centreplex box office and at www.ticket master.com.

Yolanda “Y-O” Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. She is also a Macon Arts Alliance board member. Contact her at ylatimore@gmail.com.