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My First Job, Singing and Costuming

December 31, 2012 , , ,

When I was 17 I was quite the singer. I sang in an acapella madrigal group in my high school in Texas. We were super professional thanks to our director, Frank, C “Elephant” Coulter, choir director extraordinaire. This small college town in Texas was all about football, the bonfire, and the war in Viet Nam. Frank came to work every day overdressed like a rooster and somehow instilled pure passion and discipline into high school students who generally wanted to slack. When I graduated Frank got me a job in Cherokee, North Carolina, where he spent the summers with his wife working at a theater company in the Great Smoky Mountains. Frank and Elizabeth ran the canteen, a snack bar and meeting place for the crew after our production 6 nights a week for the public, Unto These Hills.

I was the lowest paid and the youngest member of the company.  I was a singer in the choir, which was live with an organ accompanist.  I quick changed a few people each night including an eagle dancer into Andrew Jackson.  There was much body paint involved in the eagle dance, and the stage is dirt, so costumes needed the weekly deep cleaning we did on Mondays in the costume shop.  I sewed and repaired costumes for the first week while we were in preparation to get the show ready.  Fittings were needed for actors and dancers, who were true to form, very theatrical.  Our head eagle dancer was from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and could perform an entrechat huit. He also had a glass eye that he used to take out to scare the young Cherokee boys in the dressing room.  When I see the above version of the eagle dance the costumes are familiar but the rest has lost quality.  I am glad I was there when we sang it in the Cherokee language live and in person. You can never go back, especially if it has been 44 years.  I recently visited Margaret Dorn in New York City, who sings for a living.  We recorded a technically awful but sincere Eagle Dance Song and sent it to our friends in Raleigh who still know how to sing it too.  It was certainly fun while it lasted.

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That is awesome Pamela!!


Pel Abbott

December 31, 2012

They have a casino now, so the show is not the biggest draw I imagine.



December 31, 2012

Lovely video Pam!


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

December 31, 2012

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