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franklin county times

‘The Great Pretenders’ to perform at Roxy


The Franklin County Arts Council is sponsoring the 16th annual “Evening at the Roxy” during the week of the W. C. Handy Music Festival. Entertainment will be presented by local talent featured as “The Great Pretenders” July 28 at 7 p.m.

Numerous local entertainers will take the stage, including Jacob Green, Olivia Rea, Konner Bendall, Bert Fowler, Hailey Peters, Brandi Gholston, Jessica McSpadden, Emily Crummie, Alissa Young, Dana Hill, Jayne Wells, Chase Holland, Ashley Cummins, Lucas Sheppard, Angela Potter, Gary Cummings, John Pilati, Suzanne Pitt, “Still Here Gospel Group” consisting of Leon Freeman, the Rev. William Freeman, Larry Freeman, James Suggs, Lavert King, William Nelson, Wash Bates, Eric Goodloe, Willie Buchanan, Bryan Bonds and other entertainers.

“People enjoy the show because it gives a venue for local people of all ages to show their talent,” explained arts council’s Susie Malone. “Events such as the W.C. Handy Music Festival bring people from surrounding areas to visit our theater and help our local economy.” Malone said The University of North Alabama has reserved a block of 22 seats for their foreign exchange students to attend this event at the Roxy, as well.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Cummings, Russellville city councilman, who has participated the past four or five years. “It just gets a lot of local people up there to have a good time on stage. Last year I did a gospel song called ‘I’m so happy, happy, happy.’ I got my family to do it with me. It was fun.” Cumming said he hasn’t decided what he’s performing this year. But he enjoys participating because “I just love music. Since I was a little kid I’ve always loved music. A lot of people don’t remember this … 49 years ago, I recorded my first record at FAME Studios – a little gospel 45 record. Ever since I was just a small kid, I always enjoyed music.”

Cummins, who is director of the Russellville Public Library, remembers the first year she watched The Great Pretenders onstage. “There was Minnie Pearl, Elvis, the Soggy Bottom Boys. I loved it!” Cummins said. “The next year I was asked by Hudson Copeland on the arts council if I would be willing to do an impersonation for the Great Pretenders. I have always loved singing – as a matter of fact, I was a music education major before deciding to become a librarian.” So she agreed. Performing her first year as Etta James, “I was extremely nervous, but it went great,” Cummins said. “I have been doing it ever since.” This year she will take the stage as Stevie Nicks and, with her sister, the Dixie Chicks. “I just love learning new music and trying to get the right look. It’s always a blast,” she said.

Katernia Cole-Coffey will serve as emcee for the evening, as she’s done for the past several years. Cole-Coffey, Franklin County Cooperative Extension director, said it’s great to have an event as part of the Handy Festival, and she enjoys entertaining the crowd. She said the show is “a great way to come out and see our local talent. We have a lot of great musicians and singers, to the point where we could have our own musical or do some type of talent every single week. The talent is that great.” She said she thinks concert-goers will enjoy finding out how talented their friends and neighbors are.

All proceeds go to the Historic Roxy Theatre. Tickets ($5 and children under 6 are free) will be sold at the door. Several local businesses, industries and individuals support this program by sponsorships. They will be acknowledged in the official W. C. Handy brochures, on its website, Roxy movie screen and the program.

The Arts Council takes pride in the restoration of the Historic Roxy Theatre and wants to present quality, wholesome programs the entire family can enjoy.

This promises to be an entertaining evening people will not want to miss.