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Guinn’s new project will honor grandmother, heritage

Guinn's new project will honor grandmother, heritage Unicoi County native Allison Guinn will play the autoharp in her new show. Guinn has appeared on Broadway in musicals and on television. (Contributed photo)
Guinn’s new project will honor grandmother, heritage
Unicoi County native Allison Guinn will play the autoharp in her new show. Guinn has appeared on Broadway in musicals and on television. (Contributed photo)

By Curtis Carden
Sports Writer

From the Valley Beautiful to the Big Apple, Allison Guinn is no stranger to the acting scene.
Currently residing in New York City, the Unicoi County native has had success on the stage by performing in two Broadway shows, as well as appearing on national television.
Guinn now has a new project on the horizon. “The Legacy of Daisy Dean” is a theatre project spearheaded by Guinn to remember her grandmother, Daisy Dean Sherrill, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 94 years old.
“She was a big influence on my life,” Guinn said. “As part of the grieving process, I was thinking about the days of her being part of a radio quartet back in World War II, the old time country and some of her humor and mannerisms. She was just an amazing person.
“I thought about putting a concert together, with songs she used to sing … it is a bit of cabaret mixed with Appalachia.”
After receiving positive feedback from friends in the business, Guinn took to crowdsourcing to fund the project by the RocketHub website. As of Monday, Nov. 9, the site had accumulated more than $3,000, closing in on the goal of $5,000.
Donations for the performance are being accepted online at rockethub.com/61234 with the deadline for funding set for Nov. 14. Individuals can donate up until the deadline.
If individuals want to donate after the deadline, Guinn said they could contact her via direct messaging on Twitter by visiting her page at A_Guinner. Twitter will be used as a means for contact until a website is established for the project.
“The support of the project has been amazing,” Guinn said. “We’re over 60-percent of the way there.”
The funding raised by the site will go toward items, such as website creation, along with the payment of her band that has been created for the show. The string band assembled includes Peter Calo on guitar, mandolin and banjo; Sam Gelfer on upright bass; and Guinn on the autoharp.
Along with the friends in the band, Guinn said that singers from the musical Broadway “Hair,” the first Broadway show she acted in, have agreed to sing with her and provide Appalachian harmonies. The singers will include Shaleah Adkisson, Briana Carlson-Goodman, Lauren Elder and Phyre Hawkins.
Funding will also go toward the development of press packets, hiring of a technician to create and setup the video part of the show and even postage to send “you all your gifts for funding,” according to Guinn.
Different gifts are available for those who donate. For a donation of $250 or more you will receive an autographed T-shirt from comedian and actress Amy Schumer. A $200 or more donation gets an autographed photo from Misty Copeland, the first African-American female principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater.
Different pieces commemorating Daisy Dean’s life will be included in the video played during the performance. These include photos from Erwin High, including her time with the Erwin Yellow Jackets.
While wanting to highlight her grandmother, Guinn also said the performance is a way to highlight the heritage of Southern Appalachia.
“It helped make me what I am today,” she said.
On her fundraising page, Guinn said the show will present her grandmother’s legacy.
“Through the stories she told and the songs she sang, I hope to share what made her so special,” Guinn said. “Humor, music and love, especially through the hard times: that is her legacy. This is something that I am extremely proud of and something worth passing on and sharing with the world.
“Using music and humor to tolerate grief or hard times seems to be both distinctly Appalachian, yet universal at the same time. Hopefully people, especially women, will see a part of my Granny in someone they know or themselves. I hope this show will encourage others to celebrate those people, remember them, and keep their legacy alive.”
Performance dates will be announced in the future.