Ask any musician in the UK who lived in the ‘50s about bands/performers who inspired them most, and they’ll likely spurt off a fusion of American blues and rock ‘n’ roll artists: Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jerry Lee, and the list goes on. The Brits managed to take the popular sounds on U.S. radio and blend their own stylings of pop, rock and rebellion. In the summer of ‘62, when Liverpool’s famed Merseybeat (“the beat boom”) movement began, it set up the path for Britain’s most famous rock band to set sail across the Atlantic in ‘64 and invade America: The Beatles.
Beatlemania flung the door wide open for other popular British bands of the ‘60s to take hold of music and intensify its listenership. From The Kinks to the Stones, Black Sabbath to Herman’s Hermits to the Animals to Led Zeppelin, a fresh, pulsating and harder form of electric rock became the standard. Wilmington’s Carousel Center will be sending music lovers back in time with their annual Making Legends Local gala this weekend, when they take on the theme, “British Invasion.”
“There have been so many legendary artists whose music has crossed the pond and had an effect on almost everyone,” Amy Feath, executive director, says. “When you think of different genres of music, every single one has been influenced in a big way by a British artist/musician, and we wanted to highlight that.”
The gala is a lip-synching contest for the pros. Each year local organizations and businesses sign up to “sing” to their heart’s desire, as secret judges dispersed throughout the audience will rate their showmanship. Last year New Hanover Regional Medical Center won. They’ll be defending their title for 2017 against Thalian Association Children’s Theatre (TACT), Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Wilmington Fire Department, and WWAY, among others.
Justin Sorrells has been overseeing rehearsals as show director and producer, helping Holy Cross Episcopal Church prepare their Beatles number, along with Domestic Violence Shelter and Services’ “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. A special, surprise legend will cover the ‘80s hair metal of Whitesnake, “Here I Go Again.”
“The Stones were booked and Bowie was also unable to join this year’s gala,” Feath admits. But Ozzy will be on board riding his “Crazy Train,” as will pop artist Billy Ocean, who will belt “Get Outta My Dreams.”
Feath and the Carousel board has moved the event to the AUDI dealership on Eastwood this year to accommodate the show’s growth. The full gala ticket ($100) includes a red-carpet reception, plus heavy hors d’oeuvres from Little Pond Caterers and beer from Waterline Brewing, and the show itself which begins at 8 p.m. A show-only ticket ($35) is available for audience members who just want to watch a lip-synch battle of the stars. All funds raised, which equal upward of $100,000 annually, help fight for children against sexual and physical abuse.
“Carousel Center would love to be an agency that worked to close its doors because it was no longer needed,” Feath tells. “However, just last year, Carousel provided forensic/medical services for 333 unduplicated children, with 77 percent of these children being aged 12 years or younger. 72 percent were referred due to alleged sexual abuse, 21 percent referred due to alleged physical abuse, and 49 percent of these cases suspected to be at the hands of a parent, relative or parent’s significant other.”
Carousel assists with helping the children get to safe ground through community partnerships with law enforcement, child protective services and the district attorney’s offices. They all work toward holding offenders accountable and providing kids a path toward healing, in order to become healthy and maintain strong childhood memories, to help them become vibrant members of the Cape Fear community.
“We meet the physical, emotional and psychological needs of children who have suffered physical or sexual abuse,” Feath says, “and improve the community through child-abuse education and prevention. Carousel’s vision is that each child served will have a better life after they leave the center.”
Funding for the nonprofit comes through local, state, federal, and foundation grants. The budget for the agency is $800,000, with 24 percent garnered through private and/or individual donations. Making Legends Local gala is the main fundraising event of the year for Carousel Center. Funds provide child medical evaluations, comprehensive family advocacy services and evidence-based child trauma therapy services.