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Local artists showcase their talents at the Black Art and Film Fest in Killeen

Posted at 11:13 AM, May 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 12:13:38-04

KILLEEN, TX — Jarin Cole has been playing music for the past decade, which is over half of his life.

“It started with my dad playing music in the car, every time we played at home, we listened to Lenny Kravitz's greatest hits catalog,” he explained. “We just listened to that as we drove home.”

From the car to the big stage across the United States, the young violinist showcases his talents to many folks.

”I'm just, I'm just happy to be able to spread... music wherever I can,” he said, smiling.

J. Stringz is his stage name and he was just one of many talented people showing off their skills at the Black Art and Film Festival at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center Saturday.

“A lot of things go on in the larger cities, but they don't go on here,” explained Luvina Sabree, the festival’s director. “We wanted to help to bring tourism here to Killeen.”

Sabree explained that she wanted to bring a “big city feel” to a smaller area.

In order to do that, she recruited filmmakers and artists from across the county, like AJ Billionz, who’s a filmmaker from Los Angeles with an upcoming film starring Tiffany Haddish.

“Killeen is I think one of the top festivals, if not one of the tops in America, because they're supporting diversity,” Billionz said. “I'm a black filmmaker, and so a lot of times when we go to other festivals, it's kind of exclusionary.”

He explained that the industry is divided and in his opinion, always has been.

However, he explained that more and more people’s eyes are starting to open to racial injustices, which makes the film industry a bit easier for black filmmakers to navigate.

That’s why he wants to be a role model to people like Jarin Cole.

The same can be said for Cole himself.

“I want to continue being like an inspirational figure to a lot of people my age and under and over,” Cole said. “I'm just happy to be that kind of person for people.”

Cole is heading to the College of Music at Berklee University in Boston to further his education.

Both his father and his mother told 25 News that they could not be more proud of the young man he is becoming.