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Make Me A Star
Ash Native Pursues Big Dream With Country Recording
BY LYNN CARLSON
Wilder dreams have come true,
Paula Simmons Cavenaugh keeps
telling herself these days. After
all. Dolly was a hairdresser way hack when
in Pigeon Forge, before she managed to par
lay an angel's voice and some tough-gal grit
into the most fame and power ever enjoyed
by a female country singer.
While Cavenaugh snips and styles at the
Upper Cut hair salon in Whiteville, her cus
tomers talk her into playing her tape ? the
one which got her dreaming about and
working toward a career in the spotlight in
stead of the behind the scissors.
The Ash native, who has recently moved
back to her home community, knows she has
the pipes. Slip the sample tape into the deck
expecting to hear something kind of ama
teurish. and you'll get a surprise. Her voice
is clear and strong but delicate and haunting,
in an Emmylou Harris kind of way, on "The
Silence is Too Loud." Then on "I Won't
Dance," a decidedly rowdier cut, she's belt
ing it out in a style reminiscent of Wynona
She also knows how easy it is to lose it
all ? the borrowed bucks and the self-es
teem ? in the country music business. It's no
secret that for every performer who makes
it, thousands who didn't are waiting tables,
pumping gas, doing hair and bitter having
learned the hard way that the talent ain't
"It's a risk," she admits of her decision to
raise the money to have eight songs made
into a demo tape, then to sign a contract
with Southern Sound Productions in Tabor
City. "I'm scared to death. Everybody's
scared of failure. But I'm a lot less scared of
doing it than of not ever trying."
It all started with the karaoke craze ? per
haps as hot in country clubs as it is in Japan.
Cavenaugh invested in a machine and
bought some tapes and hit the saloon circuit,
graduating to open mikes and amateur
"I'm scared to
scared of failure.
But I'm a lot less
scared of doing it
than of not ever
? Paula Cavenaugh
Karaoke got her used to singing for
crowds, hut she's rather do amateur nights.
With karaoke, "the later it gets, the braver
they get," she says, and singers who are
more drunk than serious can dominate the
crowd. "On amateur night, you get one
song, and you'd better do it right."
Her persistence in the country clubs won
Cavenaugh an opportunity to go into the stu
dio and record eight songs at her own ex
pense. She did it, even though she was a lit
tle sick that day. As she sang, she noticed
studio owner and her new manager looking
at each other. She was offered a contract on
"It was what I had dreamed about, and
there 1 was doing it," she marveled.
Then the studio owner called and said he
had a song for her. "I didn't think it was
anything great to start with, but it grows on
you." It was "The Silence is Too Loud," an
original, previously unrecorded tune submit
ted to the studio; she doesn't even know
who wrote it. It's a heartbreak tune which
builds from a simple intro to a big, sad re
"We took it step by step," she added, as
sembling a band of Carolina Opry regulars
and musicians from a Myrtle Beach club. "It
was an all-dav process to record two songs,
and we all did good for never having heard
either one of them before."
She needed a back-up singer and called
Carolina Opry performer Kim Lynch, a
Iceland native and a friend from their days
together at North Brunswick High School. "I
managed to get hold of her at the Opry and
we oohed and aahed for a few minutes and
she said sure, she'd back me up."
They took the production as far as they
could in Tabor City, then the master tape
went to Crystal Records in Nashville for
mixing. There, Cavenaugh's compact- disc
will be mixed and its cover designed. In an
other six weeks, she plans to be busy help
ing the studio blanket East Coast, Canadian
and European radio stations in hopes of get-,
ting her songs played.
If family support factors into the success
equation. Cavenaugh has a good head start.
Her Aunt Rose from Lake Waccamaw is
burning up the phone lines, trying to whee
dle an audition for Paula to open for Lori
Morgan at the Alabama Theater and for a
shot at the "Star Search" television program.
Her husband Timothy, who works at
Carolina Power and Light, is behind her all
the way, and their baby Jonathan "knows the
words to every song I ever sang."
She can pursue her dream confident that
Jonathan is in good hands. Her mother and
four aunts operate the day care center where
he slays while she works.
Her mother. Louise Simmons of Ash, is
"just wild" about the idea of Paula trying to
make the big time. "She pushes me like
crazy, plus she helps me with the baby a
lot," Paula adds.
Is she at all scared of the idea that she
might actually make it? "I'd hope it
wouldn't go to my head," she says. "But I
never stop thinking about it ? the fact that I
could give my mother a new house and a
new car, that nobody I love would ever have
to work again."
PAULA SIMMONS CAVENAUGH of Ash in the studio portrait made to accom
pany her compact disc.
If Jtikm; .
STAFF PHOTO BY ERIC CARLSON
WINNING SPELLERS Richard Myers (left) and John Meyer consult on a word in the final rounds.
Star Staffers Spell 'Amanuensis , '
RUNNERS-UP Marjorie Megivern (left) and Lynn Carlson reach agreement on " amanuensis , "
which they misspelled.
I Antimacassars' To Win Adult Bee
A banner across the stage at the
Brunswick County Literacy Coun
cil's fourth annual "Spell for Lit
eracy" read "JUST FOR FUN JUST
FOR FUN JUST FOR FUN."
The adult spelling bee, held Sept.
30 at Brunswick Community Col
lege, turned out to be lots of fun
with lots of excitement for a packed
house of spectators and 28 spellers
representing 14 organizations.
This year's plaque went to
Wilmington Star-News Managing
Editor John Meyer and Staff Writer
Richard Myers who won after spar
ring ten rounds with The Brunswick
Beacon's Managing Editor Lynn
Carlson and contributor Marjorie
Megivern after all other challengers
had been eliminated.
It was "amanuensis" ? a word
meaning "slave with secretarial du
ties" or "one employed to write from
dictation or to copy manuscript" ?
which outdid the Beacon team. The
Star-News corrected the Beacon's
misspelling of the word and went on
to seal the win with a correct spel
ling of "antimacassars," "covers to
protect the back or arms of furni
In the final rounds, both teams
misspelled "pleiad," " a group of us
ually seven illustrious or beautiful
persons or things;" "nyctalopia," the
medical term for night blindness;
This year's event was hosted by
masters of ceremonies Dick Lee of
WCCA radio and Frances Weller,
WECT-TV anchor. Proceeds will
benefit Brunswick County adults
needing one-on-one tutoring. Partic
ipating organizations donated $200
to the nonprofit literacy council to
field their teams of two spellers
Scheduled during North Carolina
Literacy Month, the bee raises funds
and public awareness for the coun
cil's program to provide free, private
assistance to county residents need
ing to improve their basic reading
and writing skills.
One of this year's sponsors re
mained anonymous, but requested
that two Brunswick Community
College students comprise its team.
Students chosen to spell were Tonya
Creech and Mary Legg, who re
mained in the match for six rounds.
Here's a rundown of the sponsors,
spellers and the correct spelling of
the words they misspelled. The
teams are listed in order of elimina
? Brunswick County Schools.
Sally McMillan and May Moore,
? NationsBank. Mary and
Robert Maker, "harass."
? Brunswick Community Col
lege. Linda Eicken-Mudaro and Por
tia Starks, "toupee."
? Comprehensive Home Health
Care, Wynn Caison and Rosie Scar
? Brunswick County Extension
Homemakers. Julia Bailey and Iso
bel Beebe, "marquee."
? Southern Bell, Kathy Lamb
and Kathy Rich, "sequoia."
? Security Savings and Loan,
Sandra Cochran and Rebecca Mc
Great News for
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developed by a group of doc
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muscles and tendons.
Ask Ed Thomas, Van King or Bob Edwards,
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Shallotte or Seashore Drugs in Calabash
about Dr.'s Cream today.
Thomas Drugs Seashore Drugs
Main St., Shallotte ? 754-8228 Calabash ? 579-3200
100% money back guarantee if not satisfied.
? United Carolina Bank. Lisa
Smith and Anne Tatum, "burghers."
? The Brunswick Hospital,
George Saunders and Daphne Yar
? Exide Electronics, Vern Webb
and Jerry Eastham, "zwieback."
? Anonymous Donor, Tonya
Creech and Mary Legg, "sarsaparil
? Atlantic Telephone Member
ship Corp., Pete Barnette and Percy
13. The Brunswick Beacon,
Lynn Carlson and Marjorie Meg
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