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  • Writer's pictureGayle Albertini

Meet your Neighbors: Penny Sullivan and Paul Hill

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

Penny Sullivan and Paul hill
Craven Concerts Brings the Magic of Live Performances to New Bern.

Meet Penny Sullivan and Paul Hill. Penny is the president of Craven Concerts, Inc. this year, and Paul is the treasurer. Together, they serve as instrumental volunteers for Craven Concerts, Inc. The Craven Concert Board of Directors consists of 11 positions, seven of whom live in Fairfield Harbour.

What is Craven Concerts?

Craven Concerts, Inc. is a community concert series that brings professional live music acts to New Bern from around the country. The concept of providing live, professional entertainment to communities throughout the United States was originated by Columbia Artists Management as Community Concerts, Inc. The objective was to nurture and support a permanent concert-going audience base through a not-for-profit arts organization at the local level. Craven Concerts is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Craven County Concerts Association was founded by a group of performing arts-minded individuals in 1947, and in the 1980s, the name was changed to Craven Concerts, Inc. In 1983, there were few concerts and live music options in New Bern. Craven Concerts, Inc. filled that void.

Penny Sullivan, Craven Concerts president with the band Soul and Inspiration.

Paul Hill joined the Craven Concert board in 2014 as treasurer and has served in that capacity ever since. Penny joined simultaneously and worked in various positions, including vice president, program and publicity chair. This year, she stepped up when a new president was needed. Selecting the Bands Penny explained that selecting the live bands is the heart and soul of Craven Concerts and is the most challenging for the organization. The booking agency they frequently use is Live On Stage, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Artists are brought in from all over the country and reviewed by board members in Nashville at the Live On Stage Conference over 3-4 days. Recently, Craven Concerts added two more booking agents to add variety and explore savings.

Musical tastes vary so much, and it is hard to determine what concerts patrons would prefer to see, so this year, Craven Concerts solicited input from patrons and donors. Penny explained, “To help us determine the community’s preference, we held a Wine and Choose Party. A roomful of dedicated patrons reviewed ten music acts on a large video screen.

The patrons voted on their top four choices."After the top choices for the band are made, the challenge continues. Booking and scheduling are critical, and it’s all about timing! These artists tour the U.S. on a set route. Craven Concerts tries to catch them en route when they are close to New Bern." Penny clarifies, "That's how we get the best price. Some of these bands cost as much as $10,000 - $15,000. We can negotiate a better price when we can get them in route. Juggling all the bands and fitting them into the annual schedule is tricky! Budgeting is critical."

Donations, sponsorships, advertising sales, and annual ticket subscriptions are vital to Craven Concerts’ financial plan. Paul explains, “Budget plays a major role in the decision of which bands we bring to New Bern. We not only pay for the band but also incur peripheral expenses such as lodging, the soundman, equipment set-up, auditorium rentals, and PR and advertising. And we provide dinner the night of the show.”

The Line-Up!

This year is proving to be a success. Soul and Inspiration, a Righteous Brothers tribute with a fabulous stage presence, opened the season. Followed by TAKE3 – an all-female band that played rock to Bach! Next up is Chapel Hart on Saturday, December 16, 2023. This is a “don't-miss” concert. Chapel Hart received the coveted Golden Buzzer on America's Got Talent 2023. What does the Golden Buzzer Award mean? At any point during America’s Got Talent Auditions, the Judges have one chance each to use their Golden Buzzer, which automatically advances an Act to the Live Shows. This was a big deal for Chapel Hart, putting them on the map!

Chapel Hart started out singing together as children. Now Chapel Hart has evolved into a world-class group whose colorful and contagious energy has flourished into a live band experience that fills venues at home and around the country. Chapel Hart can tug on your heartstrings with a tender yet powerful ballad, then have you pumping your fist in unison to the pulse of hard-hitting rock and roll. The band accentuates the three vocalists, who embody the country's sweet and southern sound with soulful undertones noting their gospel roots. There’s no experience quite like the Chapel Hart experience!

Craven Concerts closes the season with the award-winning Carolina Style Chorus on Thursday, February 22, 2024. The Carolina Style Chorus is a women's chorus specializing in performing four-part, a cappella music in the barbershop style. They provide opportunities for women to learn and sing and attain individual growth in an atmosphere of friendship and fun. Their goal is to be recognized for musical excellence and to share their talents with their audiences.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit

Please consider supporting Craven Concerts by becoming a donor, sponsor, or subscribing member.

Craven Concert Board Officers: Penny Sullivan, President; Meloni Wray, Vice President; Paul Hill, Treasurer; Betty Evans, Secretary. Craven Concert Board of Directors: Pam Barnes, Ed Dzioba, Elga Joffee, Irving Joffee, Althesina Krutulewski, Pat Mora-Coxe, and Luana Palimetakis.

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