Short Stories & Doodad

Swing Time

Baseball season’s officially shelved and football season hangs in the balance, but in spite of the pandemic, the Royal and Ancient Game continues to thrive. If you’d like the chance to drive for show and putt for dough, then sign up for the inaugural Captain’s Choice tournament, Golfing for the Gals. Held September 13 at The Champions Course at Bryan Park (6275 Bryan Park Road, Browns Summit), the tourney benefits research and care for something even deadlier than coronavirus (yes, Virginia, there is such a thing): uterine cancer. Sure, you’ll have to practice the usual distancing protocols on the links but the reward is knowing the contest’s profits will go directly toward UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, deemed one of the most exceptional by National Cancer Institute. Can’t make the 9 o’clock shotgun start? Then consider making donation either online or via snail mail. For information and registration:

Light in August

We’re holding our breaths and keeping our fingers crossed that the cautious optimism of Reynolda House Museum of American Art (2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem) bears fruit on August 15 with the postponed opening of the much-anticipated exhibition Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light. As detailed in the April issue of this magazine, the show, now scheduled to run through November 29, emphasizes Louis Comfort Tiffany’s painterly eye through a series of lamps illuminating the museum gallery. Complementing the exhibit is Katharine Smith Reynolds’ collection of Tiffany blown-glass vases on view throughout the bungalow-style house. Whether stained glass or blown, Tiffany’s handiwork will shine all the brighter, as the switch is flipped on the pandemic and we move from darkness to light. Tickets: (888) 663-1149 or

Down the Garden Path

We never tire of one of the Triad’s loveliest gems, Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden (215 South Main Street, Kernersville), which brings joy year round. If you’re as grateful as we are for this gift that keeps on giving, enjoy the last gasp of the season, a twilight walking tour of the garden’s summer annuals at their peak. Led by Adrienne Roethling, PJCBG’s director of curation and mission delivery, the tour, which includes light snacks and refreshment, starts on August 20 at 6 p.m. so that each glorious bloom is highlighted by the setting sun. There’s a limit of 25 people, so register sooner rather than later by calling (336) 996-7888 or visit

Mane Attraction: The Astrological Outlook for Feline Fine

Here, Kitty, Kitty! If anyone deserves — or demands — a place in the sun, it’s Leo. After all, the sun does govern the bold, creative and — let’s be honest — over-the-top lion, who awakened late last month from a Neptune-induced stupor. You’ll find prides of Leos in the performing arts (Alfred Hitchcock, Tony Bennett, Mick Jagger, JLo, Whitney Houston, Daniel Radcliffe, Anna Kendrick.) Is it any wonder cineastes have been greeted by the MGM king of beasts for more than a century? And as king, Leo is also the sign of royalty and rulers, such as Roman emperor Claudius. At their best, they are warm-hearted, passionate, generous and protective souls. At their worst, they are insufferable megalomaniacs. (Paging Napoleon Bonaparte!) But boy, do they ever like to have fun and entertain. Just ask lioness Martha Stewart. If the sign had a mantra, it would likely be: “I vant to play!” Too bad most of this year has had the zodiac’s feline on the literal and figurative treadmill, with buzzkills Saturn and Pluto, along with expansive Jupiter touring Capricorn, tagging the lion’s sixth house of work, health and daily routines. But with all these big boys retrograding for a bit, a wave of eclipses fading in the rearview mirror, Mercury direct and riding shotgun with El Sol, and turbo-charged Mars hangin’ at home in fellow fire sign Aries, August just might shift from boring to roaring. So toss that mane, Leo, open wide and cut loose!

And the (Art)beat Goes On

Four Gate City organizations receive much-needed lifeline

No need to worry about the art and soul of Greensboro: With $200,000 in grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, four Gate City stalwarts will be able to thrive.

Among some 855 organizations, Dance Project, North Carolina Folk Festival, Triad Stage and ArtsGreensboro will each receive $50,000 to cover expenses. Under normal circumstances (whatever that is or used to be), the arts enrich and educate our citizenry, whether from advocacy of artists, agencies and teachers courtesy of ArtsGreensboro; the training, performances and collaboration (think: Dance Marathon) of Dance Project; live theater at Triad Stage; or the numerous musical stages, craft demos and freewheeling fun of the N.C. Folk Festival.

During the pandemic, the arts have saved us, serving as sources of comfort and distraction. Thanks to online galleries, plus virtual concerts, performances and tutorials, many of us who were sheltering in place without a full day’s work found solace and inspiration through new avenues of imagination and expression. And though our local arts organizations worked hard to feed our souls, who has been feeding them during this bizarre era of cancellations and shuttered doors?

With aid from NEA through CARES, the organizations’ cares are assuaged for the time being, and ever the cockeyed optimists, we know that in time, there will be dancing in the streets at Folk Fest and modern moves at Van Dyke Performance Space. Players will once again strut and fret upon the boards at the Pyrle downtown, and galleries and classrooms will flourish and throughout the city, as ArtsGreensboro continues to nourish them.

And a shoutout to the other 22 fellow grant recipients across North Carolina, such as Winston-Salem’s RiverRun International Film Festival, Blue Ridge Music Center and North Carolina Black Repertory Company, the Charlotte Ballet and Mint Museum, Wake County’s United Arts, Wilmington’s Cameron Art Museum and the Penland School of Crafts. From where we stand, the state of the state’s arts looks mighty fine.  OH
— Nancy Oakley


From Custom to Consignment

Tailor’s Rack is a perfect fit

Armed with a degree in computer science and music technology from Elizabeth City State University, Dana Williams, 28, was on the fast track with a job at Procter & Gamble. Ascending into management, he was overseeing the production of three brands of deodorant. The money was good but the stress was unbearable, and one day he had a potentially fatal seizure.

“I woke up in Moses Cone Hospital,” he recalls, “and the doctor said if I had gotten there two minutes later I wouldn’t have made it.” Stress, the doctor told him, would kill him.

So, Williams went to work for Goodwill Industries and then off-price retailer Ross Dress for Less, rising into management at both stores. “At Goodwill I learned the thrift-store process,” he says. “Ross was buying closeout items, and that taught me about buying and pricing in retail. That gave me my foundation.”

All this time, Williams was developing a passion for sewing he’d had since childhood, engendered by watching his grandmother make and mend clothes on her pedal-powered Singer. By college he was designing and altering clothes for classmates.

“I had my sewing machine right there beside my desk in my dorm room,” he says, adding, “Before long, people were asking me to customize clothes for them and dress them up.”

After renting booths at flea markets, and selling his wares both there and online through Etsy, he was ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge and opened a consignment shop in Rockingham, N.C., near his wife, Felicia’s hometown of Hamlet, expanding into a successful consignment-thrift-vintage outlet.

Moving to the corner of Davie and Friendly, Williams opened Tailor’s Rack on September 28, 2018 (Felicia’s birthday).

With the Tanger Center and the new hotel opening, Williams feels confident about his location and his blend of men’s, women’s clothing and household goods, all very reasonably priced.

Still, the 48-year-old father of two boys (Landon, 10 in March, and Laydon, 8) foresees his own clothing line in his future. He already has a label, Danaanad, has flown to China to develop relationships with manufacturers, and has the hands-on experience to make it work.

“I really want to get back to custom designing,” he mused. “That’s where my heart is.”

Plus, one would imagine, it’s a lot less stress on the heart.  OH

— Ogi Overman


Phone Home

Downtown Greensboro’s Passport to Summer goes digital

If your summer dreams include sampling Laotian food, tasting fine Italian wines or touring airy museums, maybe you want to skip the airline reservations and TSA lines for a change of pace. Just grab your “Passport” and head to Greensboro. For the third year, Downtown Greensboro (DGSO) is hosting its Passport program, encouraging locals and visitors to explore the heart of the city. Through August 31, participants can earn prizes by visiting local “ports of call” — restaurants, bars, and shops any number of other attractions about town.

This year, DGSO has gone digital, eschewing the printed passport and physical stamps for an app that gets local adventurers in the game within minutes. “We received feedback from participants over the past two years. People would often say ‘I wish this were on my phone. I forget my Passport, but I always have my phone with me,’ so we took that to heart,” says Director of Operations Julia Roach.

To get started, download the DGSO app from the App Store or Google Play and choose from three passports: Food + Drink, Shops, and Things To Do. Visit one of the participating businesses, and complete the required task to check in and receive a stamp. Six stamps in one of the passports earns you Tourist status with a prize of two Downtown Greensboro koozies. Backpackers (12 stamps) will receive a DGSO T-shirt, while Globetrotters with 20 stamps will get a water bottle and be entered for a chance to win a night out in downtown Greensboro including a stay at the new Hyatt Place hotel.

Alexa Wilde, owner of Antlers and Astronauts on South Elm Street gives her, well, stamp of approval for the program. “It’s not just for people who live in Greensboro. It’s a great resource for anyone in surrounding areas, too. The Passport is like a guidebook to summer.” The program is, of course, designed to boost sales for downtown businesses. And it seems to be working. “All of the people that have checked in so far this year have made a purchase,” says Wilde.

Roach is following the initiative with anticipation. “I’m just really excited to see how people react to the change to digital. It’s given new energy to the project, so we’re really excited to see where it goes from here.” The prizes aren’t the only reason to get involved. On August 2, O.Henry’s own O.Hey is hosting a Passport Party at Preyer Brewing Co., a fitting way to top off the program . . . and snag another Passport stamp. — Annie Vorys  OH


Free For All

EMF continues to broaden its appeal with concerts gratis to the public

If you thought classical music was out of your class, here’s your chance to elevate your status with no strain on your wallet. For the second year in a row, the Eastern Music Festival presents its Pay What You Can orchestral celebration June 28. “We decided that first Friday night of the festival was a good introduction to the whole shootin’ works, the whole shebang,” says EMF Executive Director Chris Williams. “One of my board members said, ‘Let’s go find a foundation to support it.’ And the Mebane Foundation, which does educational work, said they thought this would fit beautifully, agreed to provide the funds so we could make that one concert free and open to everyone.” The Greensboro billionaire Allen Mebane, who made his fortune in textiles with Unifi, launched his namesake foundation to ensure that all children, “regardless of race or socioeconomic background, should have the opportunity reach their highest potential in school, in career, and in life.” That philosophy dovetails perfectly with the EMF’s goals of exposing young people to the arts through an intensive, hands-on learning process and attracting the audience to see their accomplishments in performance.

In this case, you get to see all the EMF’s orchestral musicians onstage in one night. The Faculty orchestra plays one big piece, then the two student orchestras will split a Brahms symphony with each playing two movements of the symphony. “You get three orchestras playing two pieces, for whatever you can afford,” Williams says. “Last year we tried it, we were very quiet about it, weren’t sure how it would work. It brought in some families, some students who had maybe not taken the leap forward into EMF yet, that had not come before because they were curious but not willing to commit. It got people interested and excited right away.”

To rev up the excitement, the EMF hosts a chamber crawl June 15, partnering with a handful of musical ensembles for an afternoon of free performances along Elm Street. “Last year we did eight performances in eight venues — plus a little party vibe at the end,” Williams says.

Otherwise, the rich array of concerts and guest artists audiences have come to expect from EMF will continue through next month. On July 14, the festival goes on the road to Boone for a one-night appearance at the Appalachian Summer Festival, an encore performance of the Eastern Festival Orchestra featuring pianist Awadagin Pratt. And a beefed-up, second-line soundtrack — a two-week program for euphonium and tuba, much like EMF’s guitar program — should put some pep in your step, ensuring a brassy summer kickoff for the venerable festival. — Grant Britt  OH



Shain! Come Back!

International Blues Challenge winner Jon Shain returns to the Piedmont

Jon Shain is a fighter.

For his latest bout in January, he knocked out more than 260 opponents to take the title for the International Blues Challenge’s Best Solo/Duo challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Shain has been in training for decades, a fixture on the Triangle blues/folk circuit since he was a history major at Duke. He honed his Piedmont Blues guitar skills playing with Big Boy Henry and John Dee Holeman after joining Music Maker Relief Foundation’s Slewfoot Blues Band. Following graduation in 1989, Shain and John Whitehead formed Flyin’ Mice, ostensibly a blues/rock duo that specialized in line-blurring.

“We always had kind of a fingerstyle blues approach in Flyin’ Mice even after we got a drummer,” the musician says. “Then we mixed in bluegrass and country elements, and my own material has always kinda bordered on blues.” The blurred lines sometimes confound people, as Shain quips: “In folk circles they all think of me as a blues player.” How is he regarded by fans of the blues? “In blues circles I’m definitely kinda folksy.”

The Mice were an eclectic bunch that Shain says “didn’t let any genre keep us from trying something.” Started as a blues duo in ’89, the band expanded in membership and genre, covering Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley when the guitarist got a banjo. WAKE, a four-piece active from’96–’98, had a country-rock flavor, a folkier version of the Flyin’ Mice.

Incidentally, Shain initially entered the IBC 10 years ago as a duo with F.J. Ventre, getting to the finals before getting knocked out. “Maybe the difference in 10 years was my ability to connect with the audience more,” Shain says of his win, which got him a slot at this month’s Carolina Blues Festival, as well as a booking in the Las Vegas Big Blues Bender in September and a spot on the West Coast/Mexican Riviera Rhythm & Blues Cruise, with artists including Los Lobos onboard. 

“We just go where we want,” Shain says of his output, including his latest, Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday Soon, partnering with Ventre. “The album I did before that was a solo fingerstyle blues album tribute to W.C. Handy, ragtime and blues picking with nothing but guitar and vocal,” adding that it was a chance to get his guitar ya-yas out. “Now that we have this blues challenge winner on my mantle too, the next album we do is gonna try to return to blues a little bit more.” — Grant Britt  OH

John Shain will appear at Carolina Blues Festival, held May 18 & 19 at LeBauer Park, and Grove Winery on May 26. Info:;


Girls’ Club

Two young Piedmont golfers make the finals of Drive, Chip & Putt

Check it out, Wyndham Championship. You aren’t the only reason the Piedmont gets national TV attention for its golf chops.

This month, for the first time, the Triad will be represented at Drive, Chip & Putt, a youth golf competition held on the eve of the hallowed Masters Tournament — and not by one but by two local golfers: 9-year-old Gabriella “Gabbie” Moorehead of Burlington and 11-year-old Ellen Yu of High Point.

The Golf Channel will televise the competition on Sunday, April 7, the day before practice rounds begin at Augusta National Golf Club.

Started in 2013, Drive, Chip & Putt culls 80 of the country’s top male and female golfers, ages 7 to 15, for the contest every year. Competitors accumulate points based on three drives, three chips and three putts.

To make the finals, Gabbie bested 7-to-9-year-old girls in the regional round at The Honors Course near Chattanooga. Ellen topped the 10- and 11-year-olds at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

Both girls were introduced to golf by their parents. Ellen, the daughter of Kale and Julia Yu, started playing at age 7.

“I saw athletic gifts in her that I thought would translate well to golf. She has good eye-hand coordination, good attention to detail and a lot of power for a girl her age,” says Kale Yu, Ellen’s dad.

Ellen is home schooled and plays every day, weather permitting, sometimes for seven hours at a stretch. She carries a 4.9 handicap, and her best score on nine holes is 30 strokes.

“She’s totally focused on her golf,” says former PGA player Mike O’Briant, who coaches Ellen at Thomasville’s Colonial Country Club. “She enjoys playing and practicing as much as any youngster I’ve been around.”

Gabbie, who can be seen on the greens at Stoney Creek Golf Club and Starmount Forest Country Club, picked up toy clubs about age 4 and quickly cottoned to the game, often playing with her parents, Erin and Matt, and with her grandmother, Barbara Fry of Greensboro.

Her instructor, Precision Golf School’s Ted Bonham, says Gabbie’s strength is putting. Her drives — she can tag it 160 yards; not bad for someone who weighs 55 pounds — will get better with time because she naturally has the lifting finish that’s the cornerstone of the modern drive, he says, and because she picks up on his pointers quickly.

“She understands what I’m telling her, and she accomplishes it,” he says.

Aside from golf, Gabbie enjoys playing violin, taking dance classes, doing taekwondo and Girl Scouts, and hanging out with her new baby sister, Madilyn.

In a questionnaire for DC&P, she said her ideal Champions Dinner after the junior competition would be Kraft macaroni and cheese, grapes and chocolate cake. We say, dig in! — Maria Johnson  OH



Greensboro Opera launches a new production in a new performance space

We all know the story: A brother and sister lose their way in a forest and come upon a gingerbread house laden with sweets; weak with hunger, they start nibbling at the confection . . . only to discover it is the property of a witch who uses the sugary structure to lure young children for her own consumption. Grim and grisly stuff, as written by the Brothers Grimm. Though the story is well-worn, the operatic adaptation of Hansel and Gretel by 19th-century German composter Engelbert Humperdinck “has some of the most beautiful music,” says David Holley, director of Greensboro Opera.

He has equal praise for the new venue where the production will be performed March 8, 9 and 10: Well-Spring Theatre, situated on the campus of Well-Spring retirement community. “It’s just a gem,” Holley affirms. “It’s got great acoustics, great sightlines and there’s not a bad seat in the house.” Accommodating 330, the performance space consists of a traditional proscenium theater, but as Holley observes, it’s designed in such a way to serve multiple purposes. “It’s intimate, inviting, yet spacious.”

He should know, having watched the theater’s construction from the time it was “a concrete slab.” About four years ago, Holley’s colleague on the UNCG music faculty and Well-Spring’s director of programs Garrett Saake made an attractive offer: “He said, ‘We want to get professional arts organizations booked in the new performance space,’” Holley recalls. “I immediately said, ‘yes!’” (As did Five By O.Henry, Greensboro Symphony and Bel Canto Company). Ever since, the opera company has used Well-Spring for rehearsals of Daughter of the Regiment, Madame Butterfly, Carmen and Cinderella. “It’s great, because the residents can come and go,” Holley says.

Now it’s the general public’s turn to get in on the act. Or more specifically, the three acts of Hansel and Gretel, which was chosen for its popularity among opera buffs and novices alike. In addition to the familiar plot, “it’s an hour-and-a-half and in English,” Holley notes. But just as that gingerbread house in the forest enchants the opera’s protagonists, it’s the music that enchants audiences. Holley waxes poetic about the sublime “Evening Prayer,” and the, well, sweet sounds of Greensboro Youth Chorus filling cast as the other child victims of the witch’s evil spells. “A lot of it is folk-based, simple, accessible,” he says of the score. “It is one opera where people will leave humming a tune.” — Nancy Oakley  OH



Good Hare Day

Chatham County Rabbits Revisited

Most folks go rabbit hunting with a rifle. Sarah McCombie’s weapon of choice is a banjo. But bludgeoning the furry little buggers with her axe or feeding them a lethal lead and copper sandwich with a firestick is not on her agenda.

With husband Austin, the duo pay musical tribute to their adopted hometown’s former favorite pastime and means of support. The mill village of Bynum in Northern Chatham County was once the rabbit capital of the United States. “Tons of people were coming here to hunt, and there were lots of rabbits being shipped out of Chatham County, even to Europe,” the singer/banjoist says. To keep their millworkers’ spirits up, the cotton mill sponsored a string band, the Chatham Rabbits.

The original group was quite an ensemble. “We had two good fiddle players and a banjo player and a harp and a mandolin and two guitars,” original member Frank Durham bragged in a 1970 interview with UNC’s Southern Oral History Program. With the blessings of their neighbors, the McCombies adopted the name, preserving the sound, but not the size. “It wasn’t so much of a decision as just like naturally how we ended up,” McCombie says. “We’ve always played music as a duo. We really enjoy it that way, and we’ve been really successful so far just as a two-person band.”

Sarah’s intro into string-band show business sounds like Lifetime movie material. A rabid fan of David and Ivy Sheppard’s outfit, The South Carolina Broadcasters, she joined them onstage at a show in 2012 at Prissy Polly’s BBQ in Kernersville. McCombie’s sing-along warbling from the audience so impressed the Sheppards that they called her later that night, said they were looking for a banjo player and a singer and invited her to come on a radio show with them.

Under the Broadcasters’ tutelage, she perfected her banjo skills and became a band member for three years, before and finishing college and marrying Austin. They ended up in Bynum living in the house formerly owned by Randolph Riddle, the guitarist for the original Chatham Rabbits string band. The duo has since taken up music full time, selling the house and living the road dawg life in an ’86 mini Winnebago. They funded their debut release, All I Want From You, with some unique pledge inducements on Kickstarter, like baking pies for a $50 donation. “I made close to 50 pies for people this summer,” McCombie says. With a few more to make, she adds, “If we ever do that again, I don’t think I’m gonna put that on there.”

She wants people to remember this iteration of the Chatham Rabbits for their Carter Family–style vocal harmonies as well as their songwriting. “I really hope people view Chatham Rabbits and listen to our music long after we’re gone because we really do feel like it’s timeless, like a lot of old-time and bluegrass music is. Ours just happens to be a little more of the 2018 and 2019 version of that.” — Grant Britt  OH

Catch the Chatham Rabbits’ album release on February 3 at the Carolina Theatre. Info:


Shock and Awe

The mesmerizing talent of guitar
virtuoso Eric Gales

In 2012, Memphis,Tennessee, native Eric Gales was one of the headliners at the Carolina Blues Festival in Greensboro. It so happened that an attractive young lady named LaDonna was in attendance that day, and after his show they were introduced. Long story short, today they are Mr. and Mrs. Gales and are residing happily in the Gate City.

Thank you, Piedmont Blues Preservation Society.

“As soon as we met, that was pretty much it,” says Gales, a broad grin creasing his face.

Gales, now 41, might be a bluesman at his core, but after fifteen or sixteen albums (he’s not sure), he defies categorization. While his repertoire ranges from blues to rock, funk to jazz, and beyond, Gales calls his brand of music simply “inspirational.” He writes most of his own material but is apt to throw in snatches of Stevie Ray or Clapton or Hendrix, as if to let folks know just who his equals are.

In fact, when concertgoers first see Gales’ inventiveness, skill and showmanship on stage, comparisons to Jimi Hendrix inevitably follow. Apart from the fact that both guitarists share the same race and left-handed playing style, the comparison ends. And yet, Gales’ mastery of the instrument is decidedly different. Most southpaws simply reverse the strings and play chords and leads the way a right-hander would. But Gales turned over a right-handed guitar and learned to play it upside-down. Even more astounding, he is naturally right-handed.

“I picked it up on my own,” says Gales. “My older brothers were left-handed, and it just so happened I just started playing the way they did. I write right-handed and everything else; it’s the only thing I do left-handed.”

Hey . . . whatever works. There are but a handful of electric guitarists on the planet who can do what Gales does. The effect of his music leaves listeners either mesmerized or gyrating.

“Some people get up and go crazy and others just sit there,” he says. “It’s like ‘shock and awe.’”

These days, Gales is on the road most of the time, touring nationally with his six-piece band, including three backup vocalists — one of whom is LaDonna. He recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with Lauryn Hill. He is also enjoying increased demand as a session guitarist, and is working on an album for his new label, Mascot Records.

The road will wind its way home next month when Gales appears at the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival in High Point, September 3–4.

“It’s an honor to play on anything named ‘Coltrane,’” he remarks, “but it’s even better because it’s home.”  OH

— Ogi Overman

Easter Still Rising

Depending on whom you ask, Robin Doby Easter is either one of the area’s most talented and acclaimed actresses or one of its most dynamic and powerful vocalists. Fortunately, hers is not a “never the twain shall meet” situation, for in truth she does both with equal aplomb and perfection.

“Seems I’m rehearsing for something all the time,” she says with a hearty laugh, “either with a band or for a musical or for a play. I’m definitely staying busy.”

Busy is an understatement. For starters, in May alone Easter performed twice at the Levitt AMP Greensboro Music Series at Barber Park — with a different ensemble each time. She is one of the Gate City Divas, a group composed of eight of Greensboro’s top-flight female vocalists, who just released an album, Goin’ to Town, and two weeks later, at the behest of pianist extraordinaire Dave Fox, sang with the Healing Blues Project. And while gearing up for those two shows, she was also rehearsing for a June 3 play at The Barn Dinner Theatre titled Miss Mary and the Boys  . . . before performing at City Market, Summertime Brews festival and with the Divas at the Greensboro Summer Solstice. And oh, yes, Easter just started a day job as a tour guide at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. And to top it all off, she is the proud mother of four boys, who’ve blessed her with eleven grandchildren.

Amidst all that, Easter’s primary gig is fronting her own band, Doby, a five-piece funk/soul/rock outfit that has been electrifying local and regional crowds since 2010. Prior to that, she was a member of the Stovepipes, a blues ensemble fronted by well-known guitarist David Bolton.

A Lynchburg, Virginia native who migrated to Greensboro to attend Bennett College, Easter’s initial pursuit was musical theater. Her credits include Dreamgirls, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Raisin and The Color Purple. She then decided to try her hand at nonmusical drama, joining the Touring Theatre of North Carolina, under the tutelage of Brenda Schleunes.

“She believed in me enough to cast me as a Nazi in one play,” Easter discloses. “Now, that was a stretch.”

The highlight of the singer/actress’s career thus far was touring with the world premiere cast of Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise.

“It was the best experience ever, and I got to know Maya quite well,” she says. “She treated all of us like family. One day she invited me into her study where she was writing a poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.”

This month, look for Easter and Doby on the road to Floyd Fest in Virginia on July 29 and 30, and will be back in the Triad at Winston-Salem’s Bull Tavern August 4 and on the stage at a MUSEP concert on August 14 at Bur-Mil Park.

Of her career path, Easter obviously has no regrets: “I did it for love and then started getting paid. God has given me some diamonds.”  OH

— Ogi Overman