Originally created 06/20/03

Reunions brings singer home

Singer Suzanne Lawrence Geimer is living the good life in Beverly Hills, Calif.

This weekend she'll be back in Augusta to attend the 40th anniversary reunion of her Aquinas High School class.

"Aquinas gave me the opportunity to learn about the world and about myself, and those values have truly followed me throughout my life," she told me last week. "I learned a great deal about leadership and have put that to good use over the years, and I also learned to trust my instincts and follow my dreams. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Augusta, and, even though some of my memories are sad, most of them are very happy."

Ms. Geimer, married to real-estate agent and recent Beverly Hills mayoral candidate Marty Geimer, will live the dream of returning to a reunion as a success.

She and her daughter, Kelly Geimer-Lance, in April were profiled on the syndicated inspirational TV show Life Moments. It showcased their Special Angel Project, a nonprofit organization they formed to help teens in crisis. Find out more about the organization at the Web site www.special-angel.com.

In Augusta,Ms. Geimer, daughter of prominent Augusta builder Charles K. Lawrence II, sang with the Expressions at the Bon Air Hotel, the Fort Gordon Officers' Club and dances at Aquinas.

Ms. Geimer and her daughter's album, Turn on the Radio, was recorded in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and Nashville, Tenn. Their Special Angel Band includes Jon Walmsley, who portrayed guitar-playing Jason on the TV series The Waltons.

CMT'S TOP 100 SONGS: Unless you read it in The Augusta Chronicle, you probably wouldn't know about the Top 100 Country Songs list cable's CMT (Country Music Television) unveiled in early June.

Ironically, Tammy Wynette's classic Stand By Your Man topped the list, while her ex-husband George Jones' equally classic He Stopped Loving Her Today placed No. 2.

The spectacular CMT show at which country stars sang many of the Top 100 songs (Martina McBride sang Ms. Wynette's hit, Mr. Jones sang his) was not seen by many Augusta viewers because several local cable providers do not carry CMT.

The list, which can be found at www.cmt.com, was developed by surveying country-music writers, recording artists, record-company executives and other music-industry people.

That probably explains why the Dixie Chicks' Wide Open Spaces and the Soggy Mountain Boys' I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow placed in the Top 20 and why Faith Hill's Breathe and Toby Keith's Should've Been A Cowboy even made the list. Music-business people, in awards balloting or song rankings, tend to vote for the songs in which they have a financial interest.

Many great songs made the Top 100, but I didn't see a single Barbara Mandrell or Brenda Lee song. How can you have a greatest country song list without Ms. Mandrell's I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool or Ms. Lee's Tell Me What It's Like? And where was Hank Williams Jr.'s All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight, heard dozens of time each year during football season?

Oh well, lists like that are interesting reading and make for great discussion even if you don't agree with them.

MORE NAILS IN COUNTRY'S COFFIN: The Country Music Association is dropping the name of its summer event, the International Country Music Fan Fair, in Nashville, Tenn., and next year will call it the CMA Music Festival 2004.

More noncountry stars will be included to boost attendance of Nashville-area residents.

Ed Benson, the executive director of the Country Music Association, said, "Research we've got tells us that the word 'fair' was a problem, because it (describes) how people feel about something that is more rural, more agricultural, more like a state fair."

Yeah? Tell that to the rock- and folk-music women who headlined the Lilith Fair concerts.

Also, it's sad to learn Country Music Magazine, established in 1972, is folding with its August-September issue. It was a great publication during its run, and I was honored that it printed several of my freelance articles in the mid-1970s, including a Dottie West profile that started her feud with Loretta Lynn.

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 32 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at don.rhodes@morris.com.


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