January 21, 2009
"Just Havin' Some Fun"

By Cynthia Soto
The Herald-Dispatch

Photo Courtesy of Sandy Sowell

Sandy Sowell is pictured with the Putnam County Picker in the 1970s. This was where she got her start in the entertainment biz.

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- There are few professions where at the end of the day you can say, "We're just having fun and laughing 'til we cry."

But Sandy Sowell of Hurricane has made a life of entertaining and says she couldn't imagine anything better than celebrating people for a living while also leaving them with a smile on their face.

Sowell, originally from Bedford, Texas, says she's been entertaining for 30 years, a trek she remembers unintentionally beginning as early as third grade.

"I had a very strong voice," she said, which made her the perfect candidate for singing solo in her school's Christmas show. But unexpectedly, two hours before her performance, Sowell lost her voice. Her teacher encouraged her to carry on without taking her complaint seriously. As a result, that night Sowell walked the aisles singing with nothing coming out of her mouth, only tears running from her eyes.

"It's interesting how something like that could almost affect the rest of my life," Sowell said. "But it was kind of the 'show must go on' attitude that stuck then. It wasn't a good experience, but I did it."

Ironically, an experience that would have turned many away from public forums of any type led Sowell to put herself in the center of the public eye in a very big way.

Sandy Sowell, who began entertaining at an early age, works as a corporate entertainer, and now, with her company's recent addition of an extensive wireless Audience Response System, can also be hired by corporations and associations to provide this ARS evaluation tool during conference and lecture settings.

In her teen years, Sowell said she became inspired to entertain while working at Six Flags Over Texas.

"I would spend my breaks in the amphitheater, and I would go watch (the stage performers) work. I was just so amazed that they could do that and capture an audience."

In 1974, Sowell moved to Hurricane where she began to explore entertaining firsthand by joining a band called the Putnam County Pickers. She met the 1980s with the same momentum by starting a singing telegram business in Charleston. Around that same time she began to pursue some auditions through a light opera guild that ultimately landed her the lead in "Evita," "Mame" and "Gypsy".

In the late '80s, she began her next business pursuit on the karaoke scene. With the success that came from her karaoke work, Sowell said she knew it was time to really branch out, so she began to organize larger scale public entertainment to include Sumo, Human Bowling, Giant Spears and the World's Largest Twister. It was the culmination and success of all those events that brought Sowell to what she considers her greatest accomplishment thus far, an endeavor where she now provides game show-style entertainment to the masses. For 12 years, Sowell has been entertaining large groups most often a result of corporate requests.

"I tell people I yell for a living," she says with games like Horse Racin', Jeoparty and Game Show Mania. Her latest program addition includes an automated audience response system that can be used both during entertainment-type events as well as serve as a feedback or evaluation tool during conference and lecture settings.

"Companies and conferences can use this technology to get a true pulse on some very important issues," Sowell said.

Her inspiration comes from giving everyone a chance at the spotlight..

"It was about putting the person of honor in the spotlight, but there's a place for all of us," Sowell says.

If you are interested in learning more about the services Sandy Sowell Entertainment provides, go to www.sandy sowell.com, send an e-mail to sandy@sandysowell.com or call 304-562-7464.

Copyright The Herald Dispatch