Notable Performing Arts Graduates of Overton High School in Memphis TN
A few weeks ago on the NBC show, The Voice, the top singer on the series this year, Wendy Moten a 1983 graduate of Overton High school in Memphis TN, dedicated a song to Dr. Lulah Hedgeman the choir director there at Overton. Dr Hedgeman was a special person in the lives of so many kids that were in her choirs, and like me, walked those halls. When I was able to, I would join in along with many others, to help set up and run sound equipment for the performances of the band, jazz band, and choir, and always enjoyed listening to these fabuouls musicians and their leaders and teachers. Miss Hedgeman was always entertaining herself as she taught and instructed. She was a positive, phenomenal teacher and had real vision. Students that paid attention could really learn a lot.
I did some digging and thought of people I went school with there, and a did a quick search to find others that went through Overton and might have been under her instruction that have been accomplished in music.
The list below only includes people from my few years at Overton and people I went to school with.
The top of the list of course is singer Wendy Moten. If you’ve followed her career you know the depth and breadth of her work and accomplishments. Her accolades on this season’s NBC’s The Voice is really just icing on the cake to a career that’s decades long and started right after high school. Just to list a FEW accomplishments that I’m familiar with that highlight her very diverse career; in addition to an early record deal, She was for over a decade THE duet artist/ performer with Julio Iglesias and toured for 15 years with him. She’s been singing with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw for, I think, as long as she did with Iglesias. She’s performed on the Grand Ole Opry many times.
Others on the “A” List of performing arts graduates from Overton High school in Memphis TN
Others on my “A list “ from Overton High School include;
LaRita Shelby – she’s had a stellar career as an all around performer and media business person. She’s an accomplished actress, singer, dancer and her non stop career has spanned decades. From the Tom Joyner show, to USO tours, to writing, and acting on shows like South Central and many others. Check out La Rita’s IMBD page here
Grammy nominee gospel artist O’Landa Draper, who passed away much too early in 1998 at the age of 35, was a top gospel artist in the 90’s. He was the founder of the groundbreaking gospel group, The Associates. I’d encourage anyone that loves music, and especially gospel to check out Mr Draper’s Wikipedia page and look up his many accomplishments. He was a force in the gospel genre. Here is a link to a great video of O’Landa Draper and The Associates
Rick Steff– a current member of the sensational country rock band Lucero. Rick has had an outstanding music and performance career that has endured for decades in a wide range of music styles performing with artists as diverse as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, to Hank Williams Junior.
Accomplished artist in dance, Eric Henderson who choreographed with, and performed with all time dance and music icons Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Lionel Richie and many others, is definitely on my list.
Dr Denita Hedgeman. I think she deserves a mention, although as of this writing I do not know a lot about Denita. She of course is the daughter of Dr Lulah Hedgeman. From what I’ve been able to find it appears she’s an author, and has also had a very successful career in the arts like her mother.
Another phenomenal Memphis actress, Elise Demetria Neal, has appeared in many diverse roles in all kinds of movies and tv shows. She has had roles in tv shows fromFresh Prince (I think La Rita also had a role in this series) to the main cast on tv series The Hughleys, and Hollywood Divas. She was also on the cast of The Cape. One early role she had was on a favorite movie of mine, the Memphis based movie, Hustle and Flow where she was cast as Yevette. Check out her Wikipedia page and IMBD for more complete info on her extensive work.
Who else can you think of? Let me know in the comments or contact me!
I’m sure there are MANY more Overton artists I’ve overlooked. Who do you know or recall from Overton HS that was under the direction of or influenced by Dr Hedgeman and has gone on to a fulfilling career in the arts? What about other artists that were there and have gone on to greatness under the tutelage and instruction of another great Overton High School teacher? We had many great teachers and students there over the many years of the school’s history. Tell us more in the comments, or you can contact me here