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Lip syncing for literacy

on Tuesday, 18 June 2019. Posted in News, Arts & Culture, Local News

Lip syncing for literacy
Charlotte Smith, at top a youth pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church, sparkles while performing Katy Perry’s ‘Fireworks’ during Thursday’s Lip Sync Battle to benefit the Florence Area Literacy Council. Above, teacher Frankie Humphrey performs Wham’s “Wake Me Up.” At right, Les Echols of the Greater Florence Chamber, and his back-up singers get down to the soul-filled sounds of “I Feel Good.”


It may have been a night of fun and food, but the cause behind Thursday’s Lip Sync Battle is a very serious matter. The annual event held at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology is a major fund-raiser for the Florence Area Literacy Council. 

“Keep contributing to the literacy council,” said Charlotte Smith, the big winner of the night with her with her performance of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks.” “They need you. Not just tonight, but throughout the year. Go volunteer.”

Smith, a youth pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church, wowed the crowd with a highly animated performance. She took the stage wearing a raincoat, only to cast it aside and reveal a glistening rainbow-colored sleeveless dress.

The rest of the shows eight performers, all representing various organizations in the Pee Dee region, were no less impressive.

Dr. Barbara McKinley of Palmetto Animal Hospital gave the crowd a thrill as performed for the second year in a row as “The King of Pop,” Michael Jackson.

Les Echols of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce showed some serious moves as the “Godfather of Soul” with his rendition of James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” His soulful back-up singers included other chamber members as well as Echols’ wife, Nicole.

Joined by some of his students, Teacher Frankie Humphrey of Wilson High School wore a t-shirt bearing the words “Choose Literacy” while rocking the stage with his alarmingly good version of Wham’s 1980’s chart-topper, “ Wake Me Up.” His outfit even included the yellow, fingerless gloves singer George Michael wore in the popular video.

Team Honda of South Carolina, featuring Jessica Mullin and Bennie Reed, seized the moment and shook things up with Britney Spear’s “Toxic.”

Other performers included Team Raldex, featuring Niesha Miller; Team Richardson, featuring Brad Richardson of Florence Place; Team Webster, featuring George Webster of SFC Credit Union; and Team Deaver, featuring Kevin Deaver of Black Mule Printing.

Prior to the beginning of the show, hosted by Jai Jai Spann and Chad Patterson, Florence Area Literacy Council Director Christina Lawson introduced a very special person, Kenya Walker. With the help of the literacy council, Walker earned her General Education Degree last month.

“I was determined to get my diploma before my daughter turned one,” said Walker. “I did not think that I had the talents to do anything, but the people at the council made me believe.”

“She and others like her are the reason that we do what we do every single day,” said Lawson.

The Florence Area Literacy Council offers one-on-one adult literacy instruction. According to the council’s website, 33 percent of adults in Florence County are functionally illiterate. Lawson said the council works with students who are at all different grade levels, but the average student is at a third-grade level.

The goal of Thursday’s fundraiser was to raise $30,000 for the council.

“The money will go toward our adult literacy program, which is basically what we do,” Lawson said. “This money will help us provide a program coordinator who is basically our teacher and works with our students, it provides educational materials; it helps us keep our doors open. We raise 50 percent of our operating budget through fundraisers and grants, through community support. This is a huge, huge part of that effort.”

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