The food was great. The setting was fun. Even the signature drink was festive. But I can tell you right now the thing about the Dogwood After Dark party that will get the most talk will be Whitney Houston!
Dogwood After Dark, held at the Knoxville Museum of Art this past Thursday, is the official kickoff of the Dogwood Arts Festival,which runs from now through the beginning of May. (Click here for a listing of upcoming events.) The party, chaired for the fourth year in a row by my buddy Gay Lyons, has a different arts-related theme every year. This year the theme was “dance through the decades” and showcased various kinds of dances. Whitney (actually performer Champale Denise) exploded onto the dance floor lip-syncing to the Houston hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” It was a show-stopper, to say the least.
More than 300 folks turned out for the party, one of the few activities during the Dogwood Arts Festival for which a fee is charged. The evening is a fundraiser as well as a chance for sponsors and patrons to let down their hair after months of preparing for the festival. Here are some of the fun scenes from the evening.
I guess these are Greek dancers of some sort who welcomed guests to the Knoxville Museum of Art Thursday evening. From left, they are Jamie Webster, Meg Beach and Lynn Barron.
Erin Donovan of WBIR was actually INSIDE a table which rolled around. On the table sat flutes of the signature drinks of the evening, Dogwood Dazzles.
Here is Lauren Christ of Moxley Carmichael holding one of those drinks. She was a volunteer on the committee that planned the party.
Mayor Madeline Rogero, left, with Vicki Gillenwater, center, and Susan Brown
Mary Ellen Brewington and my husband, Alan Carmichael
Gina Changas, left, and Terry Alexander, both of the city of Knoxville
From left, Darrien Thomson, Chyna Brackeen, Scott Schimmel and Lisa Sorensen
From left, Kara McFarland, Becky Simmons and Julie Morris, all of WBIR-TV
John Duncan and Jennifer Rhodes
Lucia Andronescu demonstrated the flamenco. What a great dress!
Diana Morgan, left, and Shelba Murphy looked on. The two friends are enjoying their retirement from the News Sentinel.
Lisa Duncan, left, executive director of the Dogwood Arts Festival, with City Councilman (and former mayor) Dan Brown and his wife, Cathy Brown.
Gay Lyons, left, and Rose Kennedy
Mickey Mallonee and Hallerin Hilton Hill are co-chairs of the Dogwood Arts Festival this year.
Dennis Perkins, left, an active Dogwood After Dark committee volunteer, with Dino Cartwright, the evening's master of ceremonies
From left, Lezah Pinnell, Julia and Gary Bentley, Ben and Sara Pinnell and Burke Pinnell
Katharine and Roger Killen are expecting a baby boy!
Allyn Purvis Schwartz, left, Bill Lyons and Christi Branscom
Duncan Mansfield of TVA and Vivian Vega of the News Sentinel. Her dress was perfect for the occasion!
Janet Testerman and Jason McClure
Alaine McBee and Elizabeth Thomas
Sam Gordon and Kisa Abbott did a mean cha cha.
Karen and Don Sproles
Our client Mary Bogert of the Knoxville Convention Center looked very sophisticated.
Angie Wilson was a doll.
Jenny Eichholz, left, Vicki Baumgartner, center, and Kim Henry
Jodie Manross performed Pull of the Moon. She poses here in the KMA lobby in front of a piece by Richard Jolley.
Craig Shelton, left, and Jimmy Buckner
Rick and Alta Emmett with plates full of that delicious spread by Holly Hambright
Frank and Kelly Nystrom
Allyn Purvis Schwartz, left, with John Hodges and Mary B. King
And then -- Whitney!
She even looked like Whitney from the rear!
Whitney was quite a bit taller than Christi Branscom who joined her on the dance floor!
Just as we were recovering from the shock of seeing Whitney, Michael Jackson appeared! Straight out of Thriller!
Despite appearances, these two really are Greg Carney and Andrea Borja.
He's not like the other boys!
And then, of course, the zombies came!
Zombies are good dancers.
Charles Swanson and Pam Reeves
And then, after all that excitement, the attendees got a chance to dance -- to a fun band, King Super and the Excellents.
You may recognize the lead singer as Dave Cain Bowers, one of my favorite bartenders! He works at Chesapeake's.
A view looking down from the lobby as we said goodbye.
So, as you can see, the Dogwood Arts Festival is off to a good start! I hope you enjoy the festivities!
8 Responses to ““Whitney Houston” dazzles Dogwood After Dark”
Thanks for coming–hope you had a great time. I must give credit to the fabulous Dogwood After Dark team–an amazing, creative group, which has been working on this party since December. A dance-themed menu from Holly Hambright, amazing lighting from Bandit Lites, nymphs, swing dancers, the flamenco, the cha cha, the tango, and, yes, a drag queen and a bunch of zombies before the sounds of King Super and the Excellents. What more could you ask from a celebration of dance?
What a wonderful kick off to the Dogwood Arts Festival!! Thank you for all of your kind words about a fabulous event! I am so glad I attended and that you wrote about it!! Fantastic night!
Thanks for the comments, Gay and Vicki. My husband was concerned that I had not made it clear that “Whitney Houston” was actually a drag queen. I thought, however, that the name of the entertainer, Champale Denise, sort of indicated that. But, in case it didn’t come through, “Whitney” was actually a man. A beautiful one!
This was a terrific party. Kudos to Dino and Gay for the fun theme.
Great to see everybody.
Wonderful Party. They get better and better. Congratulations to all those involved and especially to their leader, Gay Lyons.
As always, thrilled to be a part of Dogwood Arts as well as Gay’s committee. Fabulous job, an amazing party and the perfect kick-off to the festival. Hope to see lots of you throughout the month!
Wow Looked as though everyone was having a great time; Loved all the dresses Fay Bailey