Appreciation: Lee Ann Wright

Not that many years ago, Solomons was a sleepy hamlet without even a stoplight. Situated at the southern tip of Calvert County, the last big noise on the island came from the landing preparations leading to D-Day in World War II. Aside from the world-renowned Tiki Bar, charter fishing and a handful of restaurants, Solomons’ main attraction was its quaint museum.
    But then Lee Ann Wright came to town, hired as director of development at Calvert Marine Museum and tasked with increasing attendance and revenue. Her brainchild was to lure major talent to what was then a temporary stage facing the museum’s grassy grounds like some miniature Wolftrap.
    “I had a baby-boomer dream to bring in some rock and roll,” Wright told Bay Weekly in 2005. “So I got Los Lobos to come and perform in May, 1995.”
    With the big talent came big bucks and swelling membership for the museum, and the concerts grew from one a year to two, then three.
    The acts included greats like James Brown, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, The Neville Brothers, Emmylou Harris and more. As the talent grew, so did the venue, with a permanent stage including state-of-the-art lighting and a top-tier sponsor in Washington Gas & Electric.
    Somehow it never rained on a Calvert Marine Museum concert under Lee Ann’s watch. It might have been pouring for days, but as the band took the stage, the clouds would part, the sky would clear, and the music would play — loud.
    Lee Ann was a force of nature, sweeping up anyone she met with her enthusiasm, her energy and her charm. She retired from the museum in 2006, leaving behind a vastly upgraded facility and a staff of three full-timers to fill her role.
    Lee Ann died of a stroke October 21.
    The world will be a quieter place without her — so put on some rock and roll, and crank up the volume. Lee Ann would approve.