Getting charged with a crime in Carlisle can be a traumatic experience. Even "petty" crimes can cause an individual's life to fall apart professionally and personally. Spending time in jail is bad enough, but the ramifications of a criminal record run deep, resulting in loss of employment, loss of friends, and even family. For many people, having a zealous criminal defense attorney in Carlisle, SC, to defend their rights is the only shot they have of living a normal life.
That's why, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of a veteran criminal defense lawyer early in the legal process. That's where CDH Law Firm comes in to give you or your loved one hope when you need it the most.
Our criminal defense law firm was founded to help people just like you - hardworking men and women who are looking at diminished employment opportunities and a possible lifetime of embarrassment. But with our team of experts fighting by your side, you have a much better chance of maintaining your freedom and living a normal, productive life. When it comes to criminal law in Carlisle, we've seen it all. With decades of combined experience, there is no case too complicated or severe for us to handle, from common DUI charges to complicated cases involving juvenile crimes. Unlike some of our competition, we prioritize personalized service and cutting-edge criminal defense strategies to effectively represent our clients.
Clients rank Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC as the top choice for Carlisle criminal defense because we provide:
Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Carlisle can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Our firm has represented thousands of clients in the Lowcountry, and we're ready to defend you too. Some of our specialties include:
DUI penalties in Carlisle can be very harsh. Many first-time DUI offenders must endure a lifelong criminal record, license suspension, and the possibility of spending time in jail. Officers and judges take DUI very seriously, with 30% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina involving impaired drivers, according to NHTSA. Criminal convictions can have lasting impacts on your life, which is why CDH Law Firm works so hard to get these charges dismissed or negotiated down. In some cases, we help clients avoid jail time altogether.
The bottom line? Our criminal law defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep you out of jail with a clean permanent record. It all starts with a free consultation, where we will take time to explain the DUI process. We'll also discuss your defense options and speak at length about the differences between going to trial and accepting a plea bargain.
The consequences of a DUI in Carlisle depend on a number of factors, including your blood alcohol level and how many DUIs you have received in the last 10 years. If you're convicted, the DUI charge will remain on your criminal history and can be seen by anyone who runs a background check on you. Sometimes, a judge will require you to enter alcohol treatment or install an interlock device on your automobile.
If you're on the fence about hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Carlisle, SC, consider the following DUI consequences:
48 hours to 90 days
Five days to three years
60 days to five years
Additional consequences can include:
When convicted of DUI in South Carolina, most offenders must join the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program mandates that offenders complete a drug and alcohol assessment and follow the recommended treatment options.
Some first-time DUI offenders in Carlisle may choose to complete community service in lieu of jail time. Community service hours are usually equal to the length of jail time an offender would be required to serve.
Typically, when a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Carlisle, their driver's license is restricted or suspended. The length of restriction or suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has.
First-time DUI offenders must endure a six-month license suspension. Drivers convicted with a blood-alcohol level of .15% or more do not qualify for a provisional license. However, sometimes they may still drive using an ignition interlock device.
Offenders convicted of a second DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.
Offenders convicted of a third DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years. That term increases to four years if the driver is convicted of three DUIs in five years.
For offenders with two or more convictions, the judge will immobilize their vehicle if it is not equipped with an IID. When a judge immobilizes a vehicle, the owner must turn over their registration and license plate. Clearly, the consequences of receiving a DUI in Carlisle can be life-changing, and not in a good way. The good news is that with CDH Law Firm, you have a real chance at beating your charges and avoiding serious fines and jail time. Every case is different, which is why it's so important that you call our office as soon as possible if you are charged with a DUI.
Most drivers brush off traffic law violations as minor offenses, but the fact of the matter is they are criminal matters to be taken seriously. Despite popular opinion, Traffic Violation cases in Carlisle can carry significant consequences like fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you love has been convicted of several traffic offenses, your license could be suspended, restricting your ability to work and feed your family.
Every driver should take Traffic Violations seriously. If you're charged with a traffic crime, it's time to protect yourself and your family with a trusted criminal defense lawyer in Carlisle, SC. Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC is ready to provide the legal guidance and advice you need to beat your traffic charges. We'll research the merits of your case, explain what charges you're facing, discuss your defense options, and strategize an effective defense on your behalf.
There are dozens and dozens of traffic laws in Carlisle, all of which affect drivers in some way. Our Carlisle defense attorneys fight a full range of violations, including but not limited to the following:
As seasoned traffic violation lawyers, we know how frustrating it can be to get charged with a Traffic Violation. While some traffic charges can be minor, others are severe and can affect your life for years to come. Don't leave your fate up to chance call CDH Law Firm today for the highest-quality Traffic Violation representation in Carlisle.
At Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC, we understand that children are still growing and learning about the world around them. As such, they may make mistakes that get them into trouble with the law. Children and teens who are arrested in Carlisle can face much different futures than other children their age. Some face intensive probation, while others are made to spend time in jail.
This happens most often when a child's parents fail to retain legal counsel for their son or daughter. Cases referred to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice often move quicker than adult cases, so finding a good lawyer is of utmost importance. With that said, a compassionate criminal defense attorney in Carlisle, SC, can educate you and your child about their alleged charges. To help prevent your child from going to a detention center, we will devise a strategy to achieve favorable results in their case.
Unlike adults, juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. Instead, once your child is taken into custody a Detention Hearing is conducted within 48 hours. This hearing is similar to a combination of a Bond Hearing and a Preliminary Hearing. Unfortunately, there is little time to prepare for these hearings, which is why you must move quickly and call CDH law firm as soon as possible.
Our team gathers police reports, petitions, interviews your child at the DJJ, speaks with you about the case and talks to the prosecutor to discover if they have plans for detention. In most cases, we strive to avoid detention and seek alternatives like divisionary programs or treatment facilities. This strategy better addresses your child's issues and keeps them out of the juvenile legal system in Carlisle. If your child is charged with a crime, and South Carolina decides to prosecute, your child will appear before a family court judge, who will find them delinquent or not delinquent. There are no juries in juvenile cases in South Carolina, which is why it's crucial to have a lawyer present to defend your child if they go in front of a judge.
Common penalties for juveniles charged with crimes in Carlisle include:
Whether you are facing a DUI charge or a serious traffic violation, CDH Law Firm is here to fight for your rights so you can continue living life. The future might seem bleak, but our criminal defense lawyers in Carlisle, SC, have the tools, experience, and strategy to win your case, as we have with so many others. Don't lose hope call our office today and maintain your freedom tomorrow.
COVID-19 protocols, spur of the moment schedule changes and a shortened playoff season.These were the challenges Midlands public schools experienced during the past SC High School League 2020-21 athletic season.Nevertheless, several schools still managed to collect their share of state titles. Both Lexington (competitive cheer, girls golf) and Gilbert (girls' golf, baseball) came away with two titles each and fellow Lexington School District One school River Bluff upset four-time defending Class 5A boys' basketball champion Dor...
COVID-19 protocols, spur of the moment schedule changes and a shortened playoff season.
These were the challenges Midlands public schools experienced during the past SC High School League 2020-21 athletic season.
Nevertheless, several schools still managed to collect their share of state titles. Both Lexington (competitive cheer, girls golf) and Gilbert (girls' golf, baseball) came away with two titles each and fellow Lexington School District One school River Bluff upset four-time defending Class 5A boys' basketball champion Dorman for the title.
None was more successful than AC Flora High School. The Columbia school took home a school-record five teams state titles:
- competitive cheer
- boys golf
- boys tennis
The Falcons were also state runner-up in girls golf and girls lacrosse and had eight individual sport or event champions:
- Gracie McCoy (girls golf)
- Tanner Edwards (state records in 100-yard bufferfly and 100-year backstroke), Darden Tate (100-yard breaststroke) and the 200-yard medley team (boys swimming)
- John O'Cain (pole vault)
- Robert McCray (high jump)
- Girls 4x100 meter relay
The end result for AC Flora was a second Carlisle Cup trophy won in three years as the top athletic program in Class 4A.
Named after former Eastside head football coach John Carlisle, the Carlisle Cup uses a point system which awards points to schools based on their finish in 22 boys’ and girls’ S.C. High School League sports. The rankings determine the top S.C. High School League athletics programs.
AC Flora tied with Eastside for the award two years ago. Because of a shortened athletic year, no Carlisle Cup award was given.
This year, the Falcons' 1120 points total exceeded Eastside by 180 points and was second highest statewide only to Class 5A Wando.
“It should have been three in a row, but we’ll take the two in a row that we’ve got,” AC Flora athletics director Edward Moore said. “It was a lot of extra steps that we had to go through this year and I’ve really proud of our coaches for buying into what the requirements are.
“We saw teams dropping out left and right in various sports and they were a lot of extra things asked of the coaches and teams to get through not just the protocols, but to keep our kids safe and healthy. Everybody bought into it and had no problems doing it. We got a lot of extra help with parents helping out. It was a great way to navigate through these hurdles.”
While golf, boys tennis and baseball added to their championship legacy, it was the first state titles for competitive cheer and football. Since Moore’s arrival six years ago, AC Flora has won a state title in 13 different sports.
Moore credits the coaches for building a championship mindset and putting their teams in play for titles every year. As long as Moore fulfills his duties in providing the resources to obtain success, he expects the Falcons to add more trophies to the school coffers.
A total of eight Midlands schools placed in the top 10 of their respective classifications for the Carlisle Cup. Lexington and River Bluff placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in Class 5A and Chapin tied for ninth with Summerville.
Gilbert and Camden placed sixth and ninth, respectively, in Class 3A.
Andrew Jackson finished fourth and Gray Collegiate tied with Crescent for ninth place in Class 2A.
CARLISLE CUP TOP 10
1. Wando (1130)
2. Dorman (840)
3. JL Mann (828.33)
4. Lexington (770)
5. River Bluff (620)
6. Fort Mill (600)
7. Riverside (520)
8. TL Hanna (470)
9 (tie). Chapin & Summerville (460)
1. AC Flora (1120)
2. Eastside (940)
3. Hilton Head Island (930)
4. Greenville (760)
5. James Island (740)
6. Catawba Ridge (690)
7. May River (630)
8. Travelers Rest (540)
9. Myrtle Beach (520)
10. North Myrtle Beach (450)
1. Bishop England (900)
2. Oceanside Collegiate (836.67)
3. Daniel (700)
4. Seneca (620)
5. Waccamaw (600)
6. Gilbert (550)
7. Powdersville (500)
8. Wren (450)
9. Camden (420)
10. Blue Ridge (400)
1. Phillip Simmons (900)
2. Christ Church (840)
3. St. Joseph’s (650)
4. Andrew Jackson (490)
5. Greer Middle College (450)
6. Landrum (410)
7. Legion Collegiate (390)
8. Woodland (360)
9 (tie). Crescent & Gray Collegiate (310)
Thousands of Columbia residents rely on the Broad River for their drinking water. But a concerning issue lies 60 miles upstream: The Carlisle Finishing Textile PlantCOLUMBIA, S.C. — Pollution leaking at a closed textile plant in Union County may threaten Columbia's drinking water.Thousands of Columbia residents rely on the Broad River for their drinking water. But a concerning issue lies 60 miles upstream: the Carlisle Finishing Textile Plant.The plant was shut down a couple of years ago, but ...
Thousands of Columbia residents rely on the Broad River for their drinking water. But a concerning issue lies 60 miles upstream: The Carlisle Finishing Textile Plant
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Pollution leaking at a closed textile plant in Union County may threaten Columbia's drinking water.
Thousands of Columbia residents rely on the Broad River for their drinking water. But a concerning issue lies 60 miles upstream: the Carlisle Finishing Textile Plant.
The plant was shut down a couple of years ago, but Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler has concerns about what remains.
"What they left behind was several waste lagoons that are filled with PFAS pollution," he said.
PFAS, also known as "Forever Chemicals," are becoming increasingly common in our waterways, according to Stangler. The chemicals can be found in several products, including food packaging, firefighting foam, and textiles.
According to state data, the pollution on the site is 7,200 times higher in groundwater than the proposed federal standard of four parts per trillion.
"The concern is that stuff will make its way into the river and eventually make its way to our drinking water here in Columbia," said Stangler.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) sent a letter to factory representatives calling the environmental problems at the plant an "urgent legal matter."
According to Assistant City Manager Clint Shealy, meeting the federal drinking water limit for PFAS could cost Columbia $150 million.
"We believe that it is by far the best economical approach to keep these compounds out of the environment," said Shealy.
Javar Juarez has lived along the Broad River for 15 years. He's hoping for swift action from officials.
"This river moves fast," said Juarez. "So not tomorrow, not next month. Today."
In April, consultants submitted a clean-up plan to DHEC.
"The reality is some of the damage has already been done here," said Stangler.
According to Shealy and Stangler, the water is still safe to drink through intense filtration.
Stangler said the company ran a treatment plant for wastewater generated at the textile factory. Still, wastewater systems are not required to filter out Forever Chemicals before releasing wastewater into a river.
Elevate Textiles said in a statement to News19:
"Carlisle Finishing has continued to operate the wastewater treatment facility for the town of Carlisle, SC after selling its manufacturing facility in 2020. Carlisle Finishing strives to meet all regulatory compliance requirements and operates the wastewater facility in accordance with all state and federal regulations and best industry practices. Carlisle Finishing is working with the site's current owner and DHEC to more fully understand and address any outstanding issues regarding wastewater processing at the site."
When the small plane he was riding in flew over a closed textile factory several months ago, Bill Stangler saw two slime-covered waste lagoons on the edge of the Broad River north of Columbia.The proximity of the factory’s lagoons to the river worried him. Stangler, the riverkeeper for the Broad, knew the basins were in an area where high levels of hazardous chemicals had been found in groundwater, sewer sludge and wastewater.He also knew the river and one of the state’s largest drinking water plants – 65 mile...
When the small plane he was riding in flew over a closed textile factory several months ago, Bill Stangler saw two slime-covered waste lagoons on the edge of the Broad River north of Columbia.
The proximity of the factory’s lagoons to the river worried him. Stangler, the riverkeeper for the Broad, knew the basins were in an area where high levels of hazardous chemicals had been found in groundwater, sewer sludge and wastewater.
He also knew the river and one of the state’s largest drinking water plants – 65 miles south in Columbia – have shown the same types of chemicals at levels above a proposed federal safe drinking water limit. The site of the lagoons reinforced his concerns that leaks from the plant were perilously close to the river and threatening Columbia’s canal drinking water.
The questions now are whether chemicals from Carlisle Finishing caused the contamination downriver and what can be done to reduce the threat of the toxic pollutants, known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in Columbia.
“That site is a potential source of PFAS for the Broad River and certainly PFAS that could be found downstream in Columbia’s drinking water,’’ Stangler said. “This is a potential ticking time bomb of pollution that sits less than 100 feet from the Broad River.’’
At Carlisle Finishing, forever chemical pollution is up to 7,200 times higher in groundwater than the proposed federal standard of four parts per trillion, state data show. Tests show sludge from waste basins has forever chemical levels up to 80 times higher than the proposed federal limit.
Levels recorded in the river and Columbia’s drinking water plant are substantially lower, but they still exceed the proposed limit for the two most common types of PFAS.
Clint Shealy, Columbia’s assistant city manager over utilities, said he wants to know whether the city or state can stop future threats and any existing leaks that are contaminating the river at the Carlisle plant.
Not only does Columbia want to limit forever chemicals in drinking water for safety reasons, but stopping them could save the city hundreds of millions of dollars. Columbia faces the prospect of spending more than $150 million for a filtering system to comply with the federal drinking water limit for PFAS if it can’t keep the pollutants out of its water, Shealy has said.
Because PFAS levels aren’t substantially above the proposed limit at the canal plant — they are less than 10 parts per trillion — any reduction in the chemicals in the Broad River could help bring the city into compliance without costly upgrades to its water system, Shealy said.
“The first logical step is to stop putting this stuff in the environment,’’ Shealy said. “Then, let’s see if our PFAS levels start decreasing. It might bring you below that limit and save customers a whole lot of money.’’
PFAS, a class of thousands of compounds, is commonly called forever chemicals because the materials do not break down easily in the environment. Used since the 1940s, the chemicals were vital ingredients in waterproof clothing, stain resistant carpet and firefighting foam.
But they have increasingly been found to be toxic. Exposure has been linked to kidney, testicular and breast cancer, ulcerative colitis and thyroid problems. Forever chemicals also can weaken a person’s immune system and cause developmental delays in children. PFAS manufacturers have been accused of hiding the dangers for decades.
In this case, it’s possible that even if forever chemical pollution can be reduced and cleaned up at Carlisle Finishing, the damage may have been done years ago.
Stangler said it would not be surprising if Carlisle Finishing released the chemicals for years, long before the public knew about the dangers. The company ran a treatment plant for wastewater it generated at the textile factory, but wastewater systems are not required to filter out forever chemicals before releasing wastewater into a river. Only certain pollutants are required to be treated.
For now, state regulators say they are trying to learn more about the problem at Carlisle. The 68-year-old textile plant, which closed about three years ago, is under scrutiny by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for the pollution found on the sprawling site between Columbia and Spartanburg.
In April, DHEC sent factory representatives a letter calling the environmental problems at Carlisle Finishing “an urgent legal matter.’’ The letter said Elevate Textiles, a one-time owner, is potentially liable to clean up the mess at the Carlisle plant. In addition to forever chemicals in groundwater, DHEC also has found the presence of volatile organic compounds, the agency said. These types of materials include solvents and chlorination byproducts.
“Because the site poses a hazard to human health and the environment, the department recommends that you give this matter your immediate attention,’’ the April letter from DHEC’s Gary Stewart to Elevate Textiles said.
Consultants have submitted a cleanup plan that appears promising, but DHEC needs to push for a resolution as soon as possible to stop the threat, said Stangler and Carl Brzorad, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
The plan says filter systems will be installed to remove PFAS from wastewater before it is released to the Broad River.
Sludge from waste basins also will be disposed of in a lined landfill on the property, according to the April 2023 plan. Sludge from Carlisle Finishing contained forever chemicals, although DHEC did not provide the levels.
In the past, the Carlisle plant distributed sludge to area farmers for use as fertilizer. All told, DHEC had given approval to spread the plant’s waste on more than 80 farm fields that included parts of small communities like Buffalo, Whitmire and Carlisle, state records show.
Tests last year found some wells near sludge fields contained levels of PFAS that would exceed the proposed federal drinking water standard, agency records show. One of those wells showed levels of one type of PFAS was 11 times higher than the proposed limit. DHEC recorded the high level in 2022, before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended the four parts per trillion standard this past spring. All told, the well registered six different types of PFAS.
DHEC has identified sewer sludge as a major potential source of PFAS pollution in rivers and groundwater. Statewide, the agency has approved about 3,500 farm fields as sites for sewer sludge, including areas of eastern South Carolina where wells are polluted with forever chemicals, The State and McClatchy reported in a recent investigative series.
In a brief email to The State, an Elevate Textiles official said the company is working to address “any outstanding issues regarding wastewater processing at the site.’’
The email said the company tries to follow environmental rules and “to employ best industry practices.’’ The official also noted that Elevate Textiles no longer owns the Carlisle Finishing property.
Union County property records show the land, which is more than 700 acres, is owned by two companies with a Monroe, N.C. address: Carlisle WW Holdings LLC and Carlisle Partners LLC. Efforts to reach a representative of the companies were not immediately successful.
The Carlisle Finishing factory was once part of Cone Mills, a national denim and textile manufacturer in North Carolina. The company launched operations in 1955 and became a pillar of the community in tiny Union County. At one point, it had more than 1,100 workers and was the largest employer in the county.
Through the years, the company’s executives won awards from the local chamber of commerce, and Carlisle Finishing was even at one point included on a tour for people interested in the history of Union County.
The plant was sold after Cone Mills declared bankruptcy in 2003, making room for Elevate Textiles to acquire the company. The Carlisle site, while popular among local citizens, isn’t without blemishes. DHEC has made at least eight enforcement cases against Carlisle since 2006 for violations of environmental laws, records show.
McClatchy data journalist Susan Merriam contributed to this story.
This story was originally published July 28, 2023, 10:29 AM.
Sammy Fretwell has covered the environment beat for The State since 1995. He writes about an array of issues, including wildlife, climate change, energy, state environmental policy, nuclear waste and coastal development. He has won numerous awards, including Journalist of the Year by the S.C. Press Association in 2017. Fretwell is a University of South Carolina graduate who grew up in Anderson County. Reach him at 803 771 8537.
CARLISLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Coroner’s Office said one person is dead following a fire in Union County.According to the Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department, first responders were called to a home on Westwood Drive in Carlisle on Monday at 2:53 p.m.That’s where the Union County coroner confirmed 56-year-old Frederick A. Jeter was found unresponsive inside.Tuesday afternoon the home was lined with caution tape, as the center of an active fire investigation.The Carlisle Fire Department said they were ...
CARLISLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Coroner’s Office said one person is dead following a fire in Union County.
According to the Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department, first responders were called to a home on Westwood Drive in Carlisle on Monday at 2:53 p.m.
That’s where the Union County coroner confirmed 56-year-old Frederick A. Jeter was found unresponsive inside.
Tuesday afternoon the home was lined with caution tape, as the center of an active fire investigation.
The Carlisle Fire Department said they were notified after Jeter’s family and friends were unable to get in contact with him.
“He had some friends and his mother that he usually talks to every day and every night before he goes to sleep and when he wakes up. They had been calling him and calling him. They went to check on him and that is what they found when they got there,” said Chief John Glenn, Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department. “According to my guys, when they responded, they made entry on the house and noticed there had been a kitchen fire but the fire had extinguished itself out and Mr. Jeter was laying on the floor in the hallway.”
From the outside, the home appears unharmed. But inside, Fire Chief Glenn said was a much different scene.
According to the fire department, when first responders arrived, the blaze had already been extinguished.
“The house was not a total loss. It had done some kitchen damage to the house but you know, it’s not unusual a fire starts in the house and it puts itself out,” said Glenn.
For neighbors like Pete Jones, it was a typical Monday afternoon until he saw the fire trucks drive by.
“I had seen the fire trucks go down there,” Jones said.
He recalled his confusion for the response and told 7NEWS that he didn’t see any smoke or anything out of the ordinary.
“I ain’t never seen no smoke or nothing,” said Jones. “I didn’t think nothing was going on.”
Fire Chief Glenn told 7NEWS they respond to calls too often where smoke detectors are either not working or not installed.
“For the past three years we have had at least one death of a house fire here in this community. That should be a lesson to everybody to get you some smoke detectors to go in your house,” Glenn said.
Now, he’s urging residents to make an effort to ensure their safety.
“Everybody needs to have working smoke detectors in their house because you put yourself in danger if you go to bed in the middle of the night and you don’t have anything to give you a warning that there’s a fire in your house,” said Glenn.
According to officials, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The coroner’s office, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Carlisle Fire Department, SLED Fire Investigators, and the South Carolina Fire Marshall’s Office were investigating the death at the scene. The Sheriff’s Office said no foul play is suspected.
According to the Union County coroner, an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
School of Music alum returns to perform in beloved American operaIn the 65 years since its premiere, South Carolina-born composer Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah stands as one of the most beloved American operas. Floyd, dubbed “a master of creating mood in the orchestra” by The Los Angeles Times, is a South Carolina Hall of Fame inductee, 2004 National Medal of Arts awardee and recipient of the 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honoree for lifetime work. Opera theater student .&q...
In the 65 years since its premiere, South Carolina-born composer Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah stands as one of the most beloved American operas. Floyd, dubbed “a master of creating mood in the orchestra” by The Los Angeles Times, is a South Carolina Hall of Fame inductee, 2004 National Medal of Arts awardee and recipient of the 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honoree for lifetime work.
Under the direction of Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, the School of Music presents Floyd’s Susannah at the university’s Drayton Hall Theatre Nov. 1-3.
Opera alumnus Daniel Gainey returns to the university to perform the role of Little Bat McClean, a troubled boy and admirer of title character Susannah.
“It is an honor for me to return to South Carolina professionally to help bring Mr. Floyd's music to life in Schlaefer's production,” Gainey says.
Schlaefer, director of opera studies at the University of South Carolina, gives graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to learn from a comprehensive program covering every facet of opera production, both on stage and behind the scenes.
“Ellen's commitment to creating a working theater company for her students, by her students, instilled a great sense of ownership for my opportunities,” Gainey says. “I create my chances as an artist instead of waiting for someone to offer me one.”
Gainey came to UofSC on a full scholarship and he credits that opportunity for opening doors he never expected. Since he graduated in 2007, he has performed as a singer and instrumentalist and directed shows. Gainey is the pastoral musician for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Asheville, North Carolina. He credits his success in part to opera at South Carolina.
“While I was at USC, I was amazed at how many resources and connections I made,” Gainey says. “I was in a leading role by my sophomore year. I was getting one-on-one time with coaches, professors and audiences. It was an amazing experience.”
The music of Susannah is characterized by Appalachian folk melodies and includes some Protestant hymns and traditional classical music. A prominent part of the opera is Susannah’s soaring aria in Act II, "The Trees on the Mountain," similar to Appalachian folk tunes, but is Floyd's own composition.
The libretto, also written by the composer, has as its basis the apocryphal story of Susannah and the Elders, updated to the recent past and relocated to a fictional rural community. The drama centers on the unjust ostracizing and abuse of Susannah by her community and the powerful leaders who are simultaneously repulsed and captivated by her beauty.
“The opera explores themes of hypocrisy, fear and the malleability of crowds, all of which are extremely relevant to our society today,” says Melissa Starkweather, a second-year master’s student in opera theater and one of two students performing the title role. “It is an exciting thing to be a part of a show which carries such a powerful message. Both the story and the music are absolutely gripping and will leave audiences with a new perspective on the power of fear.”
I hope this work can inspire the next generation of South Carolina operatic talent.
Daniel Gainey, opera alumnus
Senior choral music education and honors student Catherine Howland also plays Susannah.
“Discovering the slow, harrowing transformation and internal struggle that Susannah experiences has been a challenge, but it has also been captivating,” Howland says. “I have loved the opportunity to grow as a performer through this wonderful opera. Susannah warns us of the power of a community to do evil but encourages us to consider how we can instead do good in our own community.”
“People are ostracized and isolated every day, both for things they have done and things they haven’t,” says T.J. Turner, a master's in voice performance student who plays Sam, Susannah’s brother. “This show emphasizes the destruction and emotional turmoil it can cause for not only those who are accused, but also those who are doing the accusing, despite the reason. I think we can all identify with Susannah, but it’s important to take a step back and learn from what the other characters are doing to her and her brother, Sam, throughout this masterpiece.”
Despite its serious topic, Susannah was received well and hailed as an instant classic at its world premiere in Tallahassee, Florida, and later at the New York City Opera in 1956. The appeal of the opera has endured for more than six decades, a rare feat in operas composed in the 20th century. It attests to the composer’s uncommon ability to wed tuneful music with astute dramatic insights to create an opera of complex characters, emotional immediacy and thrilling narrative pace.
“South Carolina has given generously of its talents to the operatic world,” Gainey says. “Carlisle Floyd and Ellen Schlaefer are two such gifts. I hope this work can inspire the next generation of South Carolina operatic talent."
The opera, sung in English, will be performed at Drayton Hall Theatre, 1214 College St., at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2 and at 3 p.m. Nov. 3. Tickets are $25 for adults; $20 for seniors, UofSC faculty and staff and military; $10 for students with ID. Tickets are available online through the USC Marketplace or at the door. Please note that online and phone sales end at 3 p.m. on opening day. After that you may purchase at the door one hour before showtime.
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