BJ DRYE COLUMN: Celebrating Stanly’s talent

When I was given the suggestion last November to focus our Spirit of Stanly magazine on the theme of “the arts,” it seemed like a daunting task.

B.J. Drye

“The arts” is a broad topic and one that could become big.
I mean, my idea of what the arts are could be different than your opinion.

We tried to include a little of everything in this magazine which appears in today’s edition of The SNAP. It leaned heavily on the help of the Stanly County Arts Council, since it is the 50th anniversary of the creation of this organization.
Executive Director Renee VanHorn was very helpful in assisting with the coordination of submissions from the groups the Arts Council supports. We have information and photos from the Stanly County Concert Association, Stanly County Concert Band, Stanly County Chorale, The Uwharrie Players, The Talent Company, Uwharrie Youth Arts & City Youth Ballet and the Stanly County Arts Guild.

Other organizations include the Singing Americans and West Stanly Players.

I guess I know the most about the Stanly County Concert Association, as I spent many of my earlier years with the SNAP covering its events. I also spent a few seasons as publicity chairman for the organization.

It was a great time to be involved with the group, as I was able to meet B.J. Thomas, The Buckinghams and many others during that span. We had programs that celebrated the music of Elton John, Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Big Band era, symphonies and much more.

This was also when I almost met Mickey Rooney. Or, should I say he missed out on meeting me?

The other group I know the best is the West Stanly Players, since I am a graduate of West Stanly. I still regret not taking Jim Kennedy’s drama classes, but I did not have the confidence to appear on stage and I hated the thoughts of having to read and memorize that much material.

I’m glad that individuals like John Huneycutt and James Cotton and the Craig, Hatley and Williams families are featured in this magazine. They all deserve the recognition for their efforts in photography, painting, music, literature and film.

I’ve known Huneycutt most of my life. He has always been talented, either through his awesome photographs, paintings or digital work. I’ve come to know many of the others through my work here at the SNAP.

Like I said, this was a big project. So if your favorite artistic person is not included, let me know.

We will continue this look into the arts over the coming weeks and months because the amount of material we collected over the last few months was great. Info on a sculptor, a comic book artist, operatic and Broadway stars and more will be coming up, as well as a Q&A with current and former directors of the Arts Council, info on artists in their own words and a few more features from popular creative individuals, past and present.

Stay tuned.

B.J. Drye is the general manager/editor of The Stanly News & Press. Email bj.drye@stanlynewspress.com.