• As Connor Lorre sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” newlyweds Sallie Sompayrac  Morello and Jim Morello dance. Photo by Samantha Sinclair
    As Connor Lorre sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” newlyweds Sallie Sompayrac Morello and Jim Morello dance. Photo by Samantha Sinclair

SCOUTING AROUND: Surge in ‘Bigs’ celebrated with man of many voices

    Peachtree – It may not be easy to perform the legendary voices of Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond all in one night, but for Connor Lorre it’s a lot of fun – and his audience has fun with him.
    His show, “Variety of Legends,” was performed Saturday during the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cherokee County’s annual benefit gala at McGuire’s Millrace Farm. It featured the “greatest songs and singers from the good old days,” as well as humor and games that made the audience a part of the show.
    “I’ve been having a blast,” Lorre said after the show.
    He opened the show explaining to the audience that he’s been accused of lip syncing, and introduced his first game of the evening – he said he would briefly lip sync at some point, and anyone who caught him would have to yell “fiddlesticks.” He started singing Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley, and no one correctly caught him lip syncing.
    For the third song, he played the first few notes and asked the audience to name the tune, which a majority identified right away as Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett.
    At other points during the show, he showed he can also impersonate the voices of television stars, and is even skilled at ventriloquism. By the end of the night, several women were inspired to gather in the front of the room to sing part of Delilah by Tom Jones with him in order to win another one of the games.
    “I thought he was phenomenal,” said Bernice Mason, who was visiting from Morehead City. “I thought he was was right on for every singer.”
    It wasn’t Lorre’s first time in Murphy – he’s also performed at Chevelles and Doyle’s, and even performed for another local fundraiser about five years ago.
    “It’s always a pleasure to be a part of a fundraiser,” Lorre said.
    He lives in Atlanta, and said he loves the mountains. Lorre said everyone he’s met in Murphy is friendly, and even has fans here who signed a toothpick for him at one of his previous local performances.
    Funds raised at the show through tickets and its live and silent auction cover about a third of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cherokee County’s budget. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel sponsors the event, allowing more of the money raised to go directly to the organization’s needs.
    The organization holds other fundraisers throughout the year, but also depends greatly on individual donations. Gloria Dockery, the organization’s coordinator, is the only person paid, but funds available did allow the organization to hire an assistant for her for part of the past year.
    “You can’t do it by yourself,” Dockery said, explaining she works an average 6-16 hours more than she should every two weeks, and that she is always on her phone in some capacity for the organization.
    In Cherokee County, the program has grown from 47 matches at the end of last school year to 114 matches at the end of this one. She handles the paperwork for the matches, and meets with each regularly. All matches are made through a partnership with Cherokee County Schools.
    “It is an integral part of what we we do,” Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Jeana Conley said. “I’m so grateful.”
    In his speech at the show, advisory council chair Tom Spencer emphasized the importance of the program.
    “I can tell you we’ve saved a lot of lives with this program,” he said.
    Volunteer mentors, known as “Bigs,” only have to commit to visiting their “Little” one hour a week at the child’s school. Susan Roper of Andrews spends two hours every Monday at Andrews Middle School because she has two Littles.
    “I wanted to help. I wish I could do more,” Roper said. “It’s a blessing. It’s wonderful to be able to help these kids.”
    She said being a Big has given her an opportunity to fill what she’s missing as a grandmother, as her own grandchildren live four hours away. She recommends that others who have the time to mentor children do so.
    “It would make their heart feel good,” she said, adding it doesn’t take much to make a child happy.
    For details about volunteering or making a donation, contact Dockery at 361-0989, cherokee@bbbswnc.org, or P.O. Box 248 in Murphy.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.

The Cherokee Scout

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Murphy, NC 28906
Phone: 828-837-5122
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