“The twirling is not important. What’s important are our cute
costumes. It’s about the camaraderie, the sisterhood.”
–Karen “Awecelot” Still, “awe”ficcer of majorette group The Awesomettes
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Travis Long
Every Wednesday, laughter fills the back den of LeeAnn “LuAwe Poovey” Walsh’s Oakwood home until late, sometimes until 2 a.m. It’s the sound of 18 women, most over the age of 50, enjoying “a nip and a nibble” while affixing sequins to majorette costumes and sparkles to booties. “This is our release from being stressed and professional in our careers,” says Dee “Deevine Deevawe” Penven-Crew, the group’s president.
Sewing, nipping, nibbling, and laughing are just part of it. Together the women form a majorette troupe that performs in parades and festivals all over Wake County.
They came together in 2013, when Jackie “O Awe” Twisdale decided to bring her baton out to accompany the Oakwood Second Line marching band at the neighborhood Fourth of July party. A few people took note, including Penven-Crew’s husband, and before too long a group of interested women formed an informal majorette group – no experience required. (“We capitalize on everyone’s strengths,” explains Sharon “Clementwirl” O’Neill, “and pouring wine is an important skill.”) Self-named the Awesomettes, “We didn’t really know one another before all of this started,” says O’Neill. Now, they never go more than a week without catching up.
With performances like the one at the upcoming Raleigh Christmas Parade, the Awesomettes are a busy bunch. “We have plenty not to laugh about,” Penven-Crew says, “so we might as well have fun.” Their latest effort is to finalize a nonprofit charter that will let them accept donations and performance award money to put toward community outreach. “Everybody has awesome in them and I think that, as a group, we bring it out in the women that we empower,” Penven-Crew says. “We are not a group of wallflowers.”