When entertainers -- singers, musicians, actors, moviemakers -- from small towns achieve a certain level of fame and fortune, they tend to fall into two camps:
Those who maintain their connections with family and friends back home. And those who never look back.
Sheryl Crow is indisputably one of the brightest lights in popular music today. She has won five -- count 'em, five -- Grammies since the release of her first album in 1993. She has performed in concert all over the world. She continues to be one of the most successful musicians anywhere.
But to folks in Kennett, Mo., her hometown, she is still Wendell and Bernice's daughter, the one who was a schoolteacher in St. Louis until she went to Hollywood to seek -- successfully -- her fame and fortune.
And Sheryl Crow is still the Kennett girl who comes home to visit friends and family -- there's a bunch of them in Southeast Missouri -- and who has taken under her wing fund raising for the planned visual and performing arts school at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus. She is equally ardent about raising money for the university's Kennett Area Higher Education Center.
In 1997, Crow performed at the Kennett High School football stadium and raised money for the Kennett Education Foundation. Two years later, she gave a concert at the Legion hall in her hometown and raised $25,000 for the foundation. Last December Crow delighted an enthusiastic audience at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, raising $48,000.
Now Crow is coming back to the university for another benefit performance. This special concert will be in the 1,200-seat Academic Auditorium. Called "Sheryl Crow Unplugged," the talented singer will display her vocal skills accompanied by acoustic guitar -- a real treat for fans who prefer to hear all the words of her songs.
As usual, proceeds from the Dec. 14 concert will benefit the River Campus and the Kennett Area Higher Education Center.
The day after the fund-raising concert, Crow will be the speaker at the university's commencement program. She also will receive a well-deserved honorary doctorate.
It's a safe bet Wendell and Bernice are mighty proud of their daughter, soon to be Dr. Crow. And so are her many fans throughout the area who can show their support for education and get an earful of Crow's musical talent at the same time.