Foundation sets sights on featuring local talent
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 31, 2011 1:46 PM
The trick to having a successful arts and humanities program at Wayne Community College year after year is simple -- bring in talent with local ties.
Since the arts and humanities program was formed in 1999, it has boasted an array of programs, trips and lecture series. The idea of an annual gala was introduced in 2000 and has since featured Goldsboro High School graduates who have gone on to illustrious careers -- including Ray Bunch, an Emmy-winning producer, Carl Kasell of National Public Radio fame, and Bill Stone, a renowned opera singer.
"Just look at your own legacies in your community and that's where you'll find wonderful talent," said Jack Kannan, WCC Foundation director at the college since 1995.
"People are continuously amazed and ask me all the time, how do you find such good talent and bring them to Goldsboro? My comment is, Goldsboro has, as I would assume any community has, great talent."
The best-kept secret, Kannan said he discovered, is to never underestimate the value in extending an invitation.
"I found one thing out," he said. "It's an honor to be asked to come home to perform. That comes from Bill Stone, Ray Bunch, Steve Baddour. That's the underlying current.
"So when these people have made entertainment a way of life, they willingly do so to help us continue to promote the arts and humanities in Wayne County."
It's something the community also embraces, he added.
"I have always been fortunate to have the Goldsboro and Wayne County community rise up and support those efforts to bring these people," he said. "There's all kinds of ways the community adds to it and makes it a big event."
Kannan says the connection can be traced back to a young man who came to Goldsboro in 1942 and became a beloved drama teacher at GHS. Three years ago, the late Clifton Britton was memorialized with a gala tribute.
"I think that he planted the seed - the legacy is alive today," Kannan said. "That's the key. You have to have a Goldsboro tie."
The trend continues this week, as another native returns home for a concert.
Sally Spring, listed as one of the top eight female artists worldwide for the year on Americana radio, will perform Thursday at 7 p.m. in Moffatt Auditorium. Her new CD, "Made of Stars," has been included on "Best of 2010" lists in Australia, Canada, Europe and the U.S.
Miss Spring, who moved to Goldsboro, her mother's hometown, at age 4, tapped into her musical talents a few years later, playing guitar and singing at area coffeehouses, churches, civic organizations and festivals. After graduating from GHS in 1968, she was part of the choir for "Lost Colony" for two summers.
She has traveled extensively since, sharing the stage with such performers as John Prine, Doc Watson, The Kingston Trio, The Byrds and even Frank Sinatra Jr.
She currently lives in Winston-Salem and her mother, Betsy Spring Calderbank, still resides in Goldsboro, Kannan said.
Doors for the free concert open at 6:30 p.m. Following the performance, there will be a reception, during which Ms. Spring will sign autographs and copies of her CDs will be available for purchase.
One reason events like this can be brought to the campus, Kannan said, is because of community support.
"It takes 50 to 75 people to bring somebody like Sally Spring here," he said. "To me, we continue to have lecture series, historical trips, literary trips. We continue to have plays due to the fact that these people are willing to go and donate their time.
"We have endowments, which have two focuses -- scholarships for people who go into the field of drama or music or writing, and to bring back people like Sally Spring."