Margo Smith understands living with pain and the emotional healing power of music. She gave an inspired performance Thursday at the Savannah Center trying to make life better for sick children.
Smith’s vocals came from the heart and displayed the emotional essence of country music. It was billed as “An Evening With Margo” and benefited The Ukulele Kids Club, Inc., which supplies the musical instruments to seriously ill children in hospitals.
Smith made her own dramatic comeback after a horrific car crash put her in the hospital for months in 2014. “These kids are very sick and these ukuleles will bring some joy into their lives,” she said earlier. “We’ve got to help them and I will do what I can.”
Watch video of Thursday night’s benefit below:
The famed country and gospel singer was part of a cast of performers who thoroughly entertained a big Savannah Center crowd. Among those on stage: The Village Banjolele Club, Marc Rhoades, Jean Kagan, Joyanne Loughran, Dick Gordon, Bill Rumph, Barbara Hanson as Minnie Pearl; Phil and Val Caltabellotta, Earl Lavier, and Georgia Heistand
Corey Bergman, CEO and founder of The Ukulele Kids Club, thanked the audience for its help and assured them the ukulele group, “is a fun club.” He added that The Villages has offered strong support.
Villager Jack Fuller introduced Bergman to The Villages when Fuller donated a collection of 15 ukuleles to the organization.
“Jack called me up and here we are,” Bergman said. “Then Margo got involved and this is such a wonderful thing she’s doing tonight.” Bergman added that the organization will have donated over 1,000 ukuleles to sick children.
Smith, who lives in The Villages and had a host of hit records on the country charts in the ‘70s and ‘80s, was filled with energy as soon as she took the stage.
“I’m happy to be here and I love seeing all you people,” Smith said as she walked to the microphone. Then she sang one of her big hits, “It Only Hurts for a Little While.”
This was vintage Margo, tugging at your heartstrings just like it was 1978 all over again. She added a layer of loss in her soft, wounded but sweet vocal.
There was more emotion in the next number.
“This is a song by Jessi Colter who was married to Waylon Jennings,” Smith said, as an introduction to “I’m Not Lisa.”
“I love singing this song because I love Jessi,” Smith added. Then, once again, Margo turned the slow mournful song about lost love into her own. She possesses a glowing and warm personality, but when Smith croons aching country ballads, they take added power.
Margo also likes to have fun.
No Smith show would be complete without “The Tennessee Yodeler” doing her thing. So, Margo got the big crowd rocking with one of her trademark numbers: “He Taught Me to Yodel.”
“Now all you women, don’t try this at home, you might hurt yourselves yodeling,” Smith said with a smile. “And the same goes for you men.”
There was plenty of help on stage for Smith.
Marc Rhoades, who sang and acted as master of ceremonies, went all the way back to the Al Jolson songbook for “My Mammy.” He also brought back memories with “Shine On Harvest Moon.”
Joyanne Loughran and Jean Kagan offered a tender “Danny Boy” while Dick Gordon added a jazzy beat to “Any Time.”
Barbara Hanson donned her Minnie Pearl duds, and hammed it up on stage with some jokes and a raucous version of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’.”
Then harmonic man Phil Caltabellotta teamed with his wife, Val, on a rollicking “Kansas City.”
Earl Lavier displayed his keyboard prowess by playing some rag and also delivered a touching vocal on “Just the Way You Look Tonight.”