The Handicapitalist: Johnny Tuitel speaks at Northeast State

 Johnnie Tuitel (pronounced “title”) was born with cerebral palsy, and has used a wheelchair his entire life. But his disability has never kept him down.

Known as America’s pioneer “Handicapitalist” – a term he was first quoted with by the Wall Street Journal – Tuitel visits Northeast State Community College on Wednesday, Oct. 14 to share the humorous and entertaining stories of life and how he succeeded through acceptance, self-esteem, and motivation. His lecture begins at noon and is free and open to the public.

“Handicapitalism for me is focusing on my abilities and opportunities by developing good habits and working steadily to create a successful life,” says Tuitel. “It’s about taking risks, surrounding myself with capable people, and working toward a common goal while not letting my disability hold me back.”

His leadership experience includes being the founder of Alternatives in Motion, a non-profit organization that purchases wheelchairs for people needing financial help with their mobility. Alternatives in Motion was selected by the Michigan Association of Student Councils as their Charity of the Year. In 2003, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundationpresented a Quality of Life Grant to Alternatives in Motion. 

Tuitel is the son of immigrant parents and the third of five children. He was the first disabled student in Michigan to be moved out of a special school and placed into a regular school environment of East Grand Rapids High School. Tuitel, his wife Deb, and their three boys reside in Grand Rapids. He is a graduate of Hope College in Holland, Mich.

He has authored five books in the Gun Lake Adventure series. The hero is a boy in a wheelchair. 
Tuitel’s appearance is sponsored by the Northeast State Center for Students with Disabilities. For more information, call 423.279.7669 or jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.


Music producer Steve Buckingham rocks Northeast State

A musical career beginning with R&B legends to producing the biggest names in country music, Steve Buckingham has produced and played with popular music’s biggest names.

Northeast State Community College welcomes the Grammy-winning record producer to campus on Sept. 23 to give his insight into popular music’s past and future. Buckingham will speak at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the main campus.

Buckingham began his career playing rhythm & blues in Virginia and the Carolinas. During his high school and college days he played guitar behind such legendary artists as Jackie Wilson, The Impressions, Percy Sledge, The Drifters, Aaron Neville, The Showmen and others. As a studio musician in Atlanta and Los Angeles, he played on hundreds of records in practically every genre of music working with dozens of producers and observing their styles.

Buckingham got his first opportunity to produce in 1978. The first track he recorded, “I Love the Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges, became a worldwide hit in the Pop, R&B and Dance charts. The single and album were certified gold and it was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Vocal Performance – Rhythm & Blues.

The legendary Clive Davis of Arista Records was so impressed with Buckingham’s song sense that he assigned him to produce artists such as Melissa Manchester and Dionne Warwick which resulted in gold albums and number one songs. He later produced dozens of albums for Pop and R&B artists on various record labels.

The first country artist Buckingham produced was the legendary Tammy Wynette. They would record three albums together including her last number one single, “Your Love,” and last gold album before her death: “Honky Tonk Angels” with Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.

Buckingham’s appearance is sponsored by the Northeast State Cultural Affairs Committee. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact 423.279.7669.


Anndrena Belcher returns to Northeast State Sept. 22

Appalachian singer and storyteller Anndrena Belcher brings her raucous storytelling and musical style to Northeast State Community College for performances at the college’s Blountville and Elizabethton locations next week.

Belcher will perform at noon and 7 p.m. on Sept. 22 in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts at the college’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. She will give a second performance at the Northeast State at Elizabethton site at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 23. All performances are free and open to the public.

Described as a “honkytonk girl and a mountain song-teller with a rock and roll flair,” Belcher has spent her life teaching and entertaining with words, songs, and interpretation of history. Her Web site www.anndrena.com provides a glimpse into the life of an Appalachian artist with lots of big city admirers.

Her story-song performances blend music, dance and poetry to integrate her Kentucky coalfield roots and urban-Appalachian migration experience and her travels along the road connecting the two worlds.

Belcher champions cultural studies and uses her performance art to address the issues surrounding Appalachia and other “rural to urban” in-migration cultures. Her other recordings such as “Sweet Lucy,” “For Old Times Sake,” and “A Flying View of the World” give perspectives of Appalachia while “Ridin’ Route 23” recalls her rural-to-urban “immigration” and childhood between the two starkly different environments of Appalachia and Chicago.

For more information, contact 423.279.7669.


Northeast State welcomes UTK law professor Robert Blitt

Northeast State Community College welcomes Professor Robert Blitt to campus on Tuesday, Sept. 15 for a discussion about his work in individual rights and religious freedom. He is featured speaker for the College’s commemoration of Constitution Week.

Blitt authored a detailed human rights analysis of Iraq’s 2005 constitution, as well as articles including “The Religion-State Relationship and the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief” and “Who Will Watch the Watchdogs: The Case for Regulating International Human Rights Nongovernmental Organizations.” His legal scholarship includes exploring the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting international human rights norms, regulation, and issues related to the right to freedom of thought, religion or belief.

Blitt joined the UTK law faculty as an associate professor in 2007 from Washington, D.C., as an International Law Specialist for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent agency that observes the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad. Prior to joining the Commission, he spent five years in the Middle East where he served with the Department of International Agreements in Israel’s Ministry of Justice, clerked for the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, and directed projects at Physicians for Human Rights (Israel).

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on Sept. 17 and Constitution Week Sept. 17-23. Blitt’s appearance is sponsored by the Center for Student Development and Activities.

Blitt’s presentation begins at 11 a.m. in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the College’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

For more information, contact 423.354.2474 or email keglover@NortheastState.edu.


Audition set for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Shazam! Unto you auditions are being announced!

The Northeast State Community College Theatre Department announces open auditions for students, faculty, and the community on Sept. 23 & 24 from 4-7 p.m. for Barbara Robinson’s classic Christmas tale, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

How can it be the best Christmas pageant ever when the weird, dirty, mean, criminally inclined, universally-agreed-upon-WORST kids in town, the Herdmans, want to star in the story of Christ’s birth? Hijinks and heartwarming moments ensue as the Herdmans learn the true meaning of Christmas.  The classic story is a holiday tradition and great for the whole family.

Performers are asked to prepare a one-minute monologue from a play, book or favorite story, and be prepared to sing part of a Christmas carol a cappella. There also may be cold readings done from the play. Callbacks will be made immediately following the second round of auditions.

The production requires four men, six women, eight boys and nine girls. (Ages of characters are flexible and will be based upon audition participation.)

Northeast State Theatre strives to cast a diverse group of actors for each production. Theatre majors and non-Northeast State students and community members are encouraged to audition.

Auditions will be held at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on Northeast State’s main campus at Blountville, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

First rehearsal will be Oct. 23 at 2:30 p.m. (time and date subject to change) at the performing arts center. Play performance dates are Dec. 10-12 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m. The play is being directed by Elizabeth McKnight Sloan.
For more information, contact 423.354.2479 or e-mail emsloan@NortheastState.edu.