Summer Lovin' Lip Sync Battle Brings Arts & Culture Community Leaders Together for the Arts

By Bria Barton

Intern, The Jasper Project

Richland Library's Tony Tallent as Libba Rae Shun -- For the Arts & The Jasper Project

Richland Library's Tony Tallent as Libba Rae Shun -- For the Arts & The Jasper Project

What happens when you mix the refined art of lip-syncing, a fierce and fabulous drag queen, and a whole lot of Columbia talent in one space?  You get The Jasper Project’s highly amusing and much anticipated Summer Lovin’ Lip Sync Battle on July 7 at Tapp’s Art Center.


“You can think of the Summer Lovin’ Lip Sync Battle as a whole bundle of goodness wrapped up with a big, beautiful bow,” Tony Tallent, emcee and special guest performer, says.  “Summer Lovin’ offers the opportunity for anyone to take to the stage for the evening, get their moves on, and embody those irresistible songs that make them feel like a star.”


The fundraising event will go toward benefitting The Jasper Project and the many projects and happenings it organizes throughout the year.


“We've got a lot going on, and we can't do it without our friends, volunteers, and patrons,” Barry Wheeler, President of The Jasper Project Board of Directors, says.  “Fall Lines, our literary publication, is coming out August 6th and just before that on August 4th, we’re sponsoring the preview of the play, Black Super Hero Magic Mama at Trustus, and on Thursday, August 17th, we're putting on Syzygy: The Solar Eclipse Plays, a night of poetry and theatre.  Our next Jasper Magazine will be published in September and the 2nd Act Film Festival follows in October.”


The Jasper Project’s history of flamboyant lip sync showdowns has its beginnings in December 2016 when a Christmas-themed battle took place after the Jasper Artists of the Year Awards.  The success and enjoyment of the first show made for an easy decision to host another. Winners were Abigail McNeely, who is co-chairing this fundraiser wit Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, and Tallent, who was the People's Choice Award Winner.


“It was clever, playful entertainment that brought the crowd to its feet.  It was natural to bring this element into this July’s fundraiser and add a little summer lovin’ to it,” Tallent says.


The line up of performers features a wide array of talent from both members and admirers of the Columbia city arts and culture communities including Jordan Lawrence from the Free Times, Lee Snelgrove of One Columbia, Mario Guevara of Columbia Music of Art, Jenny Mae Hill, Ashley Hayes, Al Black, Kayla Cayhill, Mark Ziegler, Nancy Marine, Abby Ludwig, Chris Cockrell, Tiffany James, Kendrick Marion, Cory Alpert, and more. Celebrity judges, who are also slated to perform, will include Raven Black, Abigail McNeely, Wade Sellers, and Deborah Adedokun.


The master of ceremonies, Tallent will be hosting the event—as well as performing a special act—under his drag persona, Libba Rae Shun.


“One way to describe Libba Rae Shun is this: If Marie Antoinette married a Suffragette and they had a baby named Joan Jett,” Tallent says.  “So, Libba Rae is really a type of embodiment for the concepts and sometimes contradictions that keep me alert, fascinated or pleasantly confused and wondering.   Ultimately and obviously, Libba Rae is about liberating yourself, fearless expression and dressing-up-and-out for the occasion—all the occasions. And this is certainly one of them.”


Guests can expect a head-to-head lip sync off for the championship as well as many surprises thrown in throughout the night, Boiter-Jolley, an organizer of the Summer Lovin’ Lip Sync Battle, says.


Audience members can also get in on the action by buying votes for $1 to help support their favorite lip-syncing competitors and The Jasper Project.


“The Jasper Project illustrates what can happen when artful dreams and intentions come alive.  Jasper not only celebrates our community, it honors and supports the multi-faceted talent and vision flowing throughout our area,” Tallent says.  “Plus, this fundraiser is set simply to be a great deal of fun with some fantastic, supportive, progressive-minded community members.”


Although the arts can be a fairly serious matter, the Summer Lovin’ Lip Sync Battle showcases the perfect contrast for an evening filled with quirky characters, whimsy, and plenty of laughs.


“Creative people channel their creativity into projects that fulfill an itch, and sometimes that means creating an outrageously fun spectacle,” Wheeler says.  “A little fun and frivolity is necessary every now and then. And there's not much better than folks from our rich community of artists coming together to do some lip sync battles.”


Tickets are priced at $10 and can be purchased at