LESSONS FROM SOUTH AFRICA: In 2005, Newton resident

Neville D. Frankel returned to his native South Africa for the first time since emigrating to the United States with his parents at age 14. While Frankel said he initially focused on “just fitting in” after settling in Boston, he became increasingly interested over time in learning where he had come from.

During the three-week trip with his wife and two of their three adult children, Frankel said, he felt a sense of loss for the first time since leaving his homeland 38 years prior. The inspiration for his new book, “Bloodlines,” came from imagining the life he might have lived in a South Africa free of the apartheid system that had driven his parents abroad.

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“The past is the past,” Frankel said, “but it can also be a prologue.”

Frankel returned three times to South Africa to research the historical thriller. The story, which is told from the perspective of four characters across five decades, explores themes of family, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

Frankel, who primarily works as a certified financial planner, is also the author of “The Third Power,” a political thriller about the transformation of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. In 1984, he shared an Emmy Award  for his work on a BBC documentary, “The Hillside Strangler: Mind of a Murderer.”  

Through his most recent work, Frankel hopes to share the lessons he learned from his motherland.

“I discovered while writing the book that we are all deeply interwoven,” he said. “There is only a single human bloodline. We are really all one.”

“Bloodlines” is available at Newtonville Books, Brookline Booksmith, Harvard Book Store, New England Mobile Book Fair, and Porter Square Books. For more information, visit www.nevillefrankel.com.  

ESCAPING DEATH ROW: In 1994, Damien Echols was sentenced to death after he was convicted along with Jason Baldwin

 and Jessie Misskelley Jr. in the 1993 murder of three 8-year-old boys in Arkansas. Based on new DNA evidence, the “West Memphis Three,” as he and his codefendants were called, were released after serving more than 18 years in prison.

On Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m., Echols, who now lives in Salem, will answer questions from students from the Justice Brandeis Innocence Project about the relationship between the media and wrongful convictions. The free event will take place in Goldfarb Library on the Brandeis University campus, 415 South St. in Waltham. Echols, who was 18 years old at the time of his conviction, will also sign copies of his memoir, “Life After Death,’’ published last year.  

Echols will participate on a panel discussion Tuesday alongside his wife, Lorri Davis,  who married him while he was on death row; his defense team adviser, Lonnie Soury;  and CBS journalist Erin Moriarty,  who profiled Echols in segments aired on “48 Hours” and “CBS Sunday Morning.” The event will also include clips from last year’s 2012 documentary “West of Memphis,” which was produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Amy Berg.  

For more information, visit www.brandeis.edu and click on the link to “DEIS Impact’’ under Events.

CELEBRATING SHIRLEY: While her fans recognize Shirley Lewis of Newton’s Waban neighborhood as a gifted blues singer, songwriter, and poet, her

daughter, Marlene Kirby , said she is best known among friends and family for her spiritualism, charity work, devotion to her two daughters and their families, and “just being there for everybody.”

Next Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m., those whom Lewis has influenced through music and kindness will gather for a celebration of her life at American Legion Post 440, 295 California St. in Newton.

Kirby, who is a rhythm and blues singer in her own right (her stage name is Angela Warren), said 75-year-old Lewis has battled cervical cancer since 2004. Also known as the Regal Queen of the Blues, Lewis has opened for B.B. King, and performed with Etta James while touring throughout the United States and Canada.

According to Kirby, Lewis is planning to perform with her band at the celebration, which will also feature a number of special guests. Kirby hopes the event will be a chance for fans and family alike to show their love and appreciation for Lewis, and also allow Lewis to give thanks for their support and friendship over the years.

“It will be an emotional night,” she said.

The event will have a suggested donation of $20 at the door, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  

FREE FAMILY MAGIC SHOW: To honor and pay tribute to the daily sacrifices of military families, Milford resident Michael Shain  will host his fifth annual free children’s magic show from 1:15 to 2 p.m. next Sunday in the Stacy Middle School auditorium, 66 School St. in Milford.

All area families, regardless of military affiliation, are welcome to attend the event, which will feature Tommy James. The doors open at 12:45 p.m., with entertainment provided by WMRC-AM.  

Sponsors include Charles River Bank, Military Friends Foundation, and the Junior Woman’s Club of Milford. The town is providing use of the school auditorium at no charge.

As founder of Thanks to Yanks, a non-political organization, Shain has also hosted a free dinner honoring military families every Sept. 11 for the last six years.

“We must always respect, remember, and revere our military families,” he said.

Tickets are limited, and must be reserved by noon Friday by e-mailing mshain@charlesriverbank.com  with a requested number. Audience members are invited to bring donations for American troops, with wish-list items available at www.uxbridgesupportsourtroops.org .  

In case of inclement weather, go to the Thanks to Yanks page on Facebook by 11 a.m. next Sunday. For more information, visit www.thankstoyanks.org.  

YOUTH IS SERVED: Electric Youth, an international touring ensemble featuring singer-dancers from the Franklin School of Performing

Arts, will take over the Showcase Live stage at Patriot Place in Foxborough next Sunday at 6 p.m. 

The concert will feature two sets of fully choreographed performances set to contemporary pop, classic rock, country, and Broadway hits played by an eight-piece band of professional musicians.

Performers include Franklin residents Madison Asgeirsson,  Kendra Dombroski, Ali Funkhouser,  Graham Hancock,  Jocelyn Jones,  and Shaina McGillis;  Michael Fajardo of Hopkinton; Maddy Williams of Medway; and Jenna McDermott of Wrentham.

For tickets, visit www.showcaselive.com. For more information, go to www.electricyouth.com.