HAMLET — Debby Boone, if for just one night, lit up the lives of many this past Tuesday night to kick off the Dewitt Performing Arts Series at The Cole.
The concert was the first of the 2017-2018 season, which is regularly held during the academic year at the alluring Cole Auditorium on the campus of Richmond Community College in Hamlet.
A large, receptive crowd was in attendance to see Boone, who visited Richmond County for the first time since her last performance at The Cole in 2011. Her songs throughout the night were separated by stories of growing up and a star-studded cast of people she met and worked with along the way. Boone spoke about being good friends with Gina Martin, the famous Dean Martin’s daughter, and how she thought Dean Martin’s two sons were “gorgeous”.
Boone’s father, Pat Boone, performed alongside Dean Martin and other members of the famous “Rat Pack” in Las Vegas during the 1960s, and her father was always teased for having a “squeaky clean” image. Boone told the story of her father and Dean Martin being on the same stage once when Martin asked Pat, “You don’t drink nothing at all?” Pat replied, “No,” and Dean looked to the crowd and said, “Can you imagine waking up in the morning and knowing that’s the best you’re going to feel all day long? I shook hands with Pat the other day and my whole right side sobered up.”
Debby Boone and her family got the chance to visit Las Vegas with her father at age 8 while he was there performing, and Boone said she soon knew she wanted to be a performer.
“Everyone was dressed up for a show back then,” Boone said. One night, Boone peaked through the curtain and saw a woman standing at the piano singing a fiery ballad in a beautiful dress and at age 8 she recalls standing there saying, “I want to do that.”
Boone also addressed working with crooner Frank Sinatra in the early days of her performing career when she was blossoming into a star, and remembers her and her husband (then boyfriend) visiting Sinatra after he invited them to his home. She boldly sent him a wedding invitation, claiming to have “no shame”, and while he could not make it, Sinatra did send ten place settings of their china pattern as a wedding gift. Once her son was born, she sent him a birth announcement, to which Sinatra sent a silver cup as a gift with “Welcome to the World” engraved on it.
Despite her storied career featuring a cast of recognizable faces in music history, Boone spoke often and most passionately of her love for her family and that she considered herself to be very “blessed”. Her father Pat Boone had a legendary musical career in his own right, and so did her grandfather, Red Foley, who is famous for being a part of the rise of country music in the 1950s. Her mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney, too, had a successful music and acting career, famously appearing alongside Bing Crosby in the 1954 classic White Christmas. Boone also noted she is a mother to twin daughters, a son, another daughter, and has two grandchildren.
Debby Boone’s stories intrigued the hundreds in attendance and proved to be a fitting touch to a night spent reminiscing, but her music certainly proved to be the highlight of the evening. Boone sang many of her classic pieces, and of course ended the night with “You Light Up My Life”, the former #1 hit on the Billboard Top 100 chart that held the top chart spot for ten consecutive weeks in 1977.
The next show in the Dewitt Performing Arts Series will be held Monday, October 23 at 7:30pm and will feature a thrilling performance by Flip Fabrique in a contemporary circus-style acrobat show titled “Catch Me”. Single show tickets are on sale now at the Cole Auditorium Box Office in Hamlet. For more information, visit http://richmondcc.edu/dewitt-series.