By Bob Hamill
I first met Neesee Hurst sometime in 2002. I was working at the Comedy Barn and she was an audience member. You could tell from the moment you met her she was really an entertainer. Not just another performer, but someone who reaches people. There was an electricity about the girl that just blew me away. Everyone goes through tough times, entertainers in particular, but Neesee was one person that could turn a frown into a smile like nobody’s business.
There are some people who are destined to become performers and Neesee is one of them. When she was 2-years-old she heard Mahila Jackson singing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and Neesee mimicked her note for note. She was jumping up and down, really getting into the music. Her voice was a powerful force. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see her perform in a variety of venues: honky tonks, piano bars and private parties. She has always had it together. Her microphone was never needed. She could be like Tony Bennett and just sing to a theater. She no doubt has the pipes.
Neesee was eventually hired at the Comedy Barn for a year. She did a tribute to Dianna Ross and used three audience members to be back up singers. With the feather boas and an attempt at choreography, it was a stitch.
Neesee is, as I like to say, from “the old school.” She likes to play and sing classics from the ‘30s to today’s hits. She emulates artists that will last for ever: Ella, Frank, Dean, Sammy, Nat, Count and Duke. She has been blessed to have people search for her to find out where she’s performing. When you find her you won’t be disappointed. Right now you can catch her at the Crystelle Creek Restaurant & Grill in Gatlinburg, 1654 Parkway. She entertains from 5:00 ‘till 10 p.m.
What surprised me is she does not read music. All of her books are just lyrics. She’s such a songbook there’s almost nothing she doesn’t know. I asked what her favorite gig was and she told me “the next one.” Her least favorite? “The one I didn’t get.”
I’d like to do something special, as she always does things for others. Her birthday is December 13 and it would be great to have a bunch of people show up and tell her how much she is appreciated. Join my wife Marty and me around 7:00 p.m. to show our support and love.
Neesee is a person of faith and I don’t know many people who have given back to their community, charities and church as much as she has. When you come to her birthday party be sure to request a seat on her side of the restaurant and wish her a happy birthday and punch it by telling her Yahtziee! She will get the joke.