Chocowinity vocalist to perform at Bath Fest

Published 7:21 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

CHOCOWINITY — A Chocowinity woman is gearing up for an appearance during the upcoming Bath Fest festivities, planned for May 18.

Dana Lewis is among the special entertainment lined up for the event. The vocalist will take to the stage for a concert between 11 a.m. and noon.

“I’m planning to sing a variety of ’50s, ’60s and ’70s music, including ‘Higher and Higher’ by Jackie Wilson and ‘Another Saturday Night’ by Sam Cooke,” Lewis said.

This is Lewis’ third appearance at Bath Fest. She said she caught the attention of organizers when one of them attended a show at Tar Heel Variety Theater, a Chocowinity

entertainment venue owned by her parents, Ronnie and Angelia Lewis.

“She heard me sing and asked for my phone number,” Lewis recalled. “Then I was asked to perform at Bath Fest.”

Lewis began singing at the age of 7 while attending Hodges Chapel Pentecostal Holiness Church in Chocowinity. She said the first song she sang in church was titled “Get On Board.” That was the beginning of her love for singing.

“As I got older, my parents got saved, and we sang together as a family in North Carolina and Virginia,” she added. “That’s pretty much what I did until the theater opened in 2002.”

Originally billed as the Grand Ole Gospel, the venue was later renamed Tar Heel Variety Theater, although it remained true to its roots as an entertainment center suitable for the entire family.

Lewis became a regular on the theater’s playbill. A highlight for her was the opportunity to play her saxophone during an appearance there by the legendary Chubby Checker. She also opened for David Ball & The Pioneer Playboys, Jody Brown Indian Family, Ronnie McDowell and Nicky Harris. She appears as a backup vocalist on McDowell’s next CD, and she’s been a backup singer for Harris for the past five years.

But perhaps her favorite singing partner is her 6-year-old daughter, Ariel.

Tar Heel Variety Theater no longer hosts shows, but it remains a popular venue for private parties, weddings and proms. The theater stopped producing public events after its Christmas show in December 2017. Its closing may have been a blessing in disguise, according to Angelia Lewis.

“It opened up a lot of opportunities for (Dana) to venture out with her singing,” she said.

Lewis has appeared as part of an after-show at the Roanoke Rapids Theater, and she was featured during a gala hosted by Washington Assembly of God Church.

Lewis performs a variety of music and her favorite performers run the gamut of popular entertainers.

“I love to sing oldies and classic country, and of course gospel,” she said. “And I enjoy the music of Jo Dee Messina, Patsy Cline, Casting Crowns and Loretta Lynn.

Lewis may be contacted at