David Lauderdale

'American Idol' star helps Gullah see the world as a stage

"American Idol" winner Candice Glover will return to Beaufort for a concert Sept. 14, according to sources.
"American Idol" winner Candice Glover will return to Beaufort for a concert Sept. 14, according to sources.

Aunt Pearlie Sue has a message for the world: "We have a lot more Candices right here in Beaufort County."

Candice Glover of St. Helena Island has been wowing the judges in this season's "American Idol" national television series.

And that is wowing people back home.

Aunt Pearlie Sue is the stage character of Anita Singleton-Prather of Beaufort, whose Gullah Kinfolk singing group puts on a show about the last Christmas in the Lowcountry before the Civil War, and another about the Decoration Day celebrations that predated Memorial Day.

She and some friends starred in a hilarious, unscripted documentary filmed a decade ago in Beaufort and on St. Helena Island called "My Man Done Me Wrong." It will be shown March 28 at the Plaza Stadium Theater to benefit the Circle of Hope Coalition, which Prather calls "Save Da Chillun."

This group is trying to offer children constructive things to do, and Prather's interest is to use Gullah art to keep children away from violence and jail cells.

Her remark about Candice Glover was not a knock on the 23-year-old singer's great achievement. Prather said she has introduced Candice on stage and has stood in awe as she lets it rip.

Prather's point is that a lot of local talent is being wasted. She said she knows a child with a beautiful tenor voice who is more interested in drugs and neighborhood gangs.

"We have talent on top of talent," Prather said.

She's happy that Candice Glover is no longer a hidden gem.

But Prather thinks the Gullah culture from which Candice springs remains too hidden.

It's good when the Children's Museum of Houston for years features a colorful, interactive "Cum Yah Gullah" exhibit, and takes it around the nation for a million children to see. But the Texas exhibit stars our neighborhood. And what do we have for the masses fascinated by the Gullah story to see, smell, taste and feel? Where is the "there there" to the Gullah world in the community where it was born?

"We don't have it pulled together," Prather said. "We don't showcase it. It's here, but it's hidden."

A lot of people are working on changing that. The list includes the Gullah Cultural Alliance, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, the Mitchelville Preservation Project and the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island.

Meanwhile, Candice Glover stands before the cameras in Hollywood for millions of viewers, grips the microphone, closes her eyes, and pours out a blast of Sea Island culture, one verse at a time.

Related content

  1. Meet Aunt Pearlie Sue
  2. Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
  3. Children's Museum of Houston: "Cum Yah Gullah"