Alabama School of Fine Arts
A resident of Fairfield, Diamond Sparks is a senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA). In her nomination of Diamond as a Young Hero, college advisor Rebecca Rutsky wrote, “Diamond Sparks is a student in the ASFA Music Department whom we’ve identified as having an innate vocal gift as well as the tremendous work ethic necessary to become a professional performer…Her singing pierces your heart, and you know without a doubt that there is real passion, love, disappointment, hurt and strength all wrapped up in it.”
Diamond’s accomplishments are many, even at her young age. Already, she has sung with an Honors Performance Series that took her to Australia, qualified for All-State Choir for all four of her high school years, and sang for Harry Belafonte at a Black History Month concert. She has appeared in numerous plays at her school, as well as musical performances featuring the school choir and the women’s choir. She sang the national anthem for the Birmingham mayor’s induction, Birmingham Barons baseball games and many other events in the area.
With all her achievements, the journey has not been easy for Diamond. She lost her father to cancer at a young age. Throughout her life, her mother battled substance abuse problems while having congestive heart failure and was pronounced brain dead due to what the family believes to have been an overdose when Diamond was in 9th grade. Her music teacher wrote, “I witnessed her strength as I sat in the church pew at her mother’s funeral and watched Diamond not only speak at the funeral but sing a beautiful tribute to her mother. It takes a strong young lady to do something like that. I admire her tenacity.”
Diamond lives with her grandmother in Fairfield. This creates a tricky balancing act for her, considering their limited means and the instability of public transport from Fairfield to Birmingham. Counselor Rutsky wrote, “As you evaluate her credentials, keep in mind that ASFA students must maintain high standards in both their specialty arts and core academic work. Our graduation requirements exceed those of the Alabama Advanced Academic Diploma.”
One of her science teachers wrote, “Diamond works so hard at everything she does. What she may have once lacked in academic preparation due to having attended low-performing schools before being admitted to ASFA, she makes up for through grit, determination, and positivity. She is a quick learner who applies faculty suggestions to improve her work, is never afraid to ask questions, and always has something productive to add to a classroom discussion.”
For the application of her talent and wits to succeed when odds were stacked against her, Diamond is recognized by her school and our state as one of the five 2019 Young Heroes of Alabama.
The Young Heroes Program is made possible through the support of: