Honor in the Arts Given to Ferry Godmother

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEW WINDSOR – The actual gala might have been cancelled, but the potency of the honor remained.

Like all other large gatherings in the month of March, The Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh & Poughkeepsie’s 6th Annual Youth of the Year Gala, saluting talented and altruistic-driven youth and adults in the community, did not take place. One of four community leaders who make a difference who was to be officially honored that evening at New Windsor’s Anthony’s Pier 9 was Aquanetta Wright, known by many as “The Ferry Godmother.” The brain-child of the long-running Newburgh Jazz Series, which has evolved into an assortment of music genre offerings as well as locations over its 13 year tenure, Wright earned the “Excellence in the Arts” Award. It was a recognition Wright did not take lightly.

“It came as a surprise to me when I was contacted by Alexis Carrington, Director of Human Resources and Facilities; I had no idea I was even in the running for it,” said a very touched Wright. “This honor means so much to me because of the organization it comes from and the quality programs it offers children and the community as well as the incredible respect I have for its Executive Director, Kevin White, who helped me tremendously by believing in my wanting to help the Newburgh community and helping me get started with Ferry Godmother Productions.”

A New York State Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE), in marketing and audio visual production, Ferry Godmother Productions started as a means of supporting the community as well as the arts through tourism. The roots of the name lie in Wright’s efforts to provide hot coffee and warm greetings to commuters at the Newburgh Landing. From that and other community-driven events, Wright’s venues evolved into the artistic realm, a place where she has always had incredible respect for as well as found priceless comfort and unity. In 2007, The Newburgh Jazz Series, featuring high caliber, including Grammy Award winning, artists (ones Wright insist always, “100%,” get paid for their craft) performing outdoors twice a week for eight weeks over the summer, was born. The popular series has grown to include; Gospel, Oldies, Pop and Doowop as well as Jewish music offerings, attracting even broader, and always very appreciative, audiences.

“My key factor in all of this is to be all-inclusive, supportive of one another,” explained Wright. “The best way I have found to accomplish this is through the vehicle of the arts, specifically music; it gives the opportunity for us to learn more about different cultures, and with it, a better understanding of each other, helping break down barriers…why it is so very important.”

Reflecting further upon the magnitude of her award from the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh & Poughkeepsie, Wright added, “Kevin (White) and I share a similar mission: To unite and bring people together.” She added, “I do what I do for the love of music and community, but if I’m going to be tagged publicly, there is no one else I would rather it be by than Kevin and his organization, making me feel so blessed and grateful.”

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