Originally created 09/30/00

Contest winner gets private show



It's the only way to experience a concert. A quaint venue. A room filled with only people you've invited.

LaKesha Baylis stood centerstage as a recording artist worked her name into a song. Chiseled, agile dancers shimmied right along with the 25-year-old Augusta woman.

The R&B girl group Blaque performed at a private party for Ms. Baylis, who won the Cumulus Broadcasting "Concert at Your Crib" contest. More than 200 radio stations nationwide entered hundreds of their listeners' names for the drawing, and Ms. Baylis, a member of the Army Reserve and a waitress at the Red Lobster restaurant on Walton Way, took the grand prize.

"I've never really won anything in my life, and then I just won this and met someone famous like this," Ms. Bayliss said. "It's like a big rush."

The stacks of sound equipment wouldn't fit into Ms. Baylis's Augusta home, so her party was held in a small downstairs ballroom at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.

There were 150 concert tickets - distributed to friends and family - bearing the guest of honor's name.

"Always, an intimate setting is better than a 15-to-20-thousand-seat arena," said Cut Creator, who has been the disc jockey for rap artist L.L. Cool J for 16 years. He said he takes breaks from venues such as the Texas Cotton Bowl and huge-capacity concert halls in Japan and Africa to do private promotions, such as Ms. Baylis'. "It's more personal; it's up close. It makes someone feel special."

Blaque sang two of its chart-toppers, Bring it All to Me and 808, while about 30 of Ms. Baylis' family and friends shot video or bunched at the corner of the stage in a frenzy. Their only complaint was that the 12-minute concert was a great deal shorter than they had expected.

"This was a very special event," said Shamari Fears, one of the singers in Blaque. "I think that it's real important that we stay close to our fans, regardless of whether it's 50,000 people or five people."

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.