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Bravo country music star comes to Tuscaloosa

Taylor Holland

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When Karen Waldrup, a country musician and contestant on Bravo’s first season of Platinum Hit, came to Tuscaloosa to play the Heroes in the Storm concert at Bryant-Denny Stadium last July, she said she couldn’t believe what she saw.

“I’d seen what happened on the TV like the rest of the country, but when I got into our van and drove around the city, that’s when it really hit me,” Waldrup said.

“It was then that I knew I had to do something to help, but I wasn’t sure what.”

While Waldrup was surveying the damage from her van, which included information about her tour on its sides, she said a woman stopped them and asked if she could purchase one of her CDs.

“It was then that it hit me,” Waldrup said. “I could raise money for Tuscaloosa through my music.”

But Waldrup didn’t stop there.

It was during the Heroes in the Storm concert that Waldrup met Sue Parker, professor emeritus in the College of Human Environmental Sciences and previous owner of a fabric store on 15th Street.

“When we got out of the business, we stored the fabric in two 18-wheeler truck beds that we parked behind Parker’s Drug Store on 15th Street,” Parker said. “When the tornado came through, it literally picked up both of the truck beds and threw one right in front of McDonalds and the other into the Subway parking lot.

“The trailers were popped wide open and everything had just exploded all over 15th Street. There were pieces of fabric around trees, wrapped around cars; you name it, my fabric was there.”

Parker said she and a number of volunteers began recovering the pieces of fabric from the debris.

“It was part of my healing process,” Parker said. “We were all rummaging through the debris to recover the fabric, regardless of how wet and dirty each piece was. The whole time, I was trying to figure out how we could make something good come out of something so bad.”

After recovering the fabrics, Parker was put in touch with the Black Belt Designers, a group who restructures ripped, past-life denim jeans into designer jackets.

The group then took Parker’s fabrics and crafted jackets, dresses, vests, scarves and flower hairpieces out of them, Parker said.

“I told Karen about Remnants of the Storm, our brand name, because she always wears a flower in her hair,” Parker said. “She asked for a flower and also took some out of the road with her to raise money towards the city’s relief efforts.”

Waldrup, who is playing 30 shows in 30 days, said she’s been selling the flowers for $30 each, as well as carrying around a red box where people can donate money to Tuscaloosa’s Temporary Emergency Services.

Her tour reaches Tuscaloosa today, as she is slated to perform beginning at 9:45 p.m. at Innisfree Irish Pub. Tomorrow, Waldrup will play a show at the Yellowhammer Inn, honoring small businesses owners who lost their businesses on April 27, beginning at 6 p.m. Following that performance, Waldrup will play at the Green Bar beginning at 10 p.m.

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Bravo country music star comes to Tuscaloosa