SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — “Don’t touch that dial!” That was the plea from 4-year-old identical twins Alvin and Calvin Almond when James Brown made appearances on the Ed Sullivan show back in the 1960s. The Suffolk twins would dance and sing to images on their small black-and-white television as their parents cheered them on.
As teenagers, the twin’s group, The Stone Love Band, hit the so-called “Chitlin Circuit” in Tidewater, where the brothers, in tandem, would wow crowds with dance moves such as the split, the camel walk, and of course James Brown’s mashed potatoes while belting out hits such as “I Feel Good, I Got the Feeling and Please, Please, Please.” At John F. Kennedy High School they picked up the saxophone to sweeten the sounds of their James Brown covers.
Their lives changed dramatically in 1979 when they moved to California.
Their lives changed dramatically again when they met James Brown in 1998.
A friend had connections with the Brown tour and Alvin had the opportunity to meet the “Godfather of Soul” after a performance at the San Jose Arena.
“It was so unreal even when I saw him and he hugged me. All our lives we wanted to be like him. People called us the James Brown twins,” said Alvin Almond.
He formed a bond with Brown and later introduced Brown to his brother Calvin. The twins thanked Brown for penning a song that instilled confidence in the young men from a small town in Virginia.
“We thanked Brown when we first met him in rearing us up to be Black and proud,” said Calvin Almond.
In 2001, “Mr. Brown” — as the brothers call him — and the twins co-founded a nonprofit organization named The Youth of America Show that helps children in five states including Virginia.
The twins returned to Suffolk a few years ago where they rolled up their sleeves and hosted health, educational and musical programs for the children of Suffolk.
It was a big hit in their hometown.
Then, in March, the pandemic hit.
The program’s headquarters is near a discount store where the twins often see children who are missing from their online classrooms.
“We see them right here on the streets of Suffolk: kids that should be in class at the computers and the parents just don’t have a hold on them,” said Alvin Almond.
Calvin finished the thought by describing children who have apparently lost their desire to grow and learn.
“When the pandemic came, it kind of took away that spirit and I could see the spirit in them had fallen,” said Calvin Almond.
Because of the pandemic, most activities take place outside their headquarters, and they reach out to youth and parents via social media and via calls to their program at 757-995-3357.
They’ve received support from politicians and local businesses, but they need additional funding to complete renovations. They’re also looking for Black and Proud role models who can Open up the Door for children who have been socially displaced by the pandemic.
“We have a lot in store that we want to do to affect those kids not only in Suffolk but we want to reach out to some of the other communities in Hampton Roads,” said Alvin Almond.
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