Virginia Credit Union TV spot stars local talent
When Virginia Credit Union decided to produce television commercials featuring its members, among the stars who rose to the top in tryouts was Henrico resident Ronald Lanier.
Although he has long been active in the music ministry at Cedar Street Baptist Church, Lanier tends toward the sidelines and considers himself somewhat shy.
As director of the Virginia Department of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH), he keeps a low profile as well, helping to coordinate statewide services for the hearing-impaired.
But when the call went out from VACU for members to strut their stuff at an audition, Lanier couldn’t pass it up. “I fit the criteria, and the rehearsals fit my own schedule,” he recalls.
What’s more, Lanier just plain loves to sing.
“Singing has been a part of me,” he says, “from way back.”
Lanier (pictured) showed up at the studio audition fully prepared to sing the National Anthem – a number he is comfortable with after opening a baseball game at The Diamond. But he expected only to sing, having read that dancing was an optional part of tryouts.
After hearing him sing a few lines, however, the judges asked him to dance.
“That I was not prepared for,” he says. “So I put on an embarrassing display of the Electric Slide!”
Henrico residents featured
More than 80 VACU members tried out for the commercial, according to Glenn Birch, director of public and media relations at VACU. The tryouts were held “American-Idol-style,” with local celebrities as judges. “Everyone had fun,” Birch says, “even the people who didn’t make it [into the commercial].”
One dozen members participated in the first commercial that began airing in March, and another dozen (including Lanier) starred in the second commercial that launched this month.
Among other participants with Henrico connections are Stacy Barnett, who teaches English at Highland Springs H.S., and Robbie Cunningham, an Eastern Henrico resident and self-employed jazz musician; both joined Lanier in the second commercial. Justin Morris of Glen Allen, a long-time member of the gospel group The Soulsters, was in the first commercial.
Now that the 30-second spot has been seen locally, Lanier says he is constantly recognized and asked for his autograph.
While the fame and the positive feedback have been rewarding, Lanier says the highlight of the experience was a conversation he had with VACU Vice President of Marketing Deb Wreden, about the importance of providing closed captioning for the commercial.
“She was quick to assure me that it would be done,” says Lanier, “as they had not even thought of it before.”
Captions for the grandkids
A native of Roanoke, Lanier was hit by a car as a child, and doctors discovered soon afterwards that he had suffered a hearing loss.
Between the hearing impairment and his shyness, it took some time for Lanier’s musical talents to come to light.
But, he says now, he always felt that he had something to offer vocally. In his senior year of high school he finally “took the big step” and joined the choir; before long, he was singing the occasional solo.
After moving to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, he became a Henrico resident in the late 1970s, and has been a VACU member for 25 years.
Birch says that upon meeting Lanier, he was impressed not only by his efforts to advocate for closed captioning, but also by his commitment to “helping those with hearing difficulties navigate a culture that assumes everyone can hear.”
What’s more, says Birch, Lanier’s commitment to this goal extends beyond his professional interests to a family and personal level. Lanier and his wife adopted a deaf child, now 31; and their son has two children of his own, who are also deaf.
Lanier points out that lobbying for closed captioning does not just benefit those who are deaf and hard of hearing; it also makes sense from the advertiser standpoint.
“Seriously,” he says, “when television programs and commercials are captioned, you invite even more customers into the mix.”
But Lanier readily admits that captioning the VACU commercial benefits him personally as well, by allowing hearing-impaired family members to better appreciate the ad.
“I especially wanted my two grandkids,” he says, “to know what their grandfather is singing and dancing about!”
To view the VACU commercials, visit http://youtube.com/watch?v=sxv9WSKRCUY and http://youtube.com/VACreditUnion; or visit the Virginia Credit Union page on Facebook for photos and clips from the ads.
With a nod to Arbor Day, Citizen seeks photos, descriptions of significant Henrico trees
Citizen Staff Reports 04/28/2015
Do you have a favorite tree in Henrico?
Do you know of a tree with an interesting story?
Do you live near an especially large, old, or otherwise unusual tree – or do you pass by one that has always intrigued you?
Arbor Day 2015 (April 24) was last week, and though the Citizen has published stories about a few special trees over the years (see sidebar) we know that our readers can lead us to more. > Read more.
Henrico's most famous tree, known as the Surrender Tree, still stood for more than a century near the intersection of Osborne Turnpike and New Market Road -- until June 2012.
It was in the shade of that tree on April 3, 1865, that Richmond mayor Joseph Mayo met Major Atherton Stevens and troops from the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry and handed over a note surrendering the city to Federal troops. Evacuation had already begun. > Read more.
The Greater Richmond ARC's annual Ladybug Wine Tasting and Silent Auction on April 11 netted $75,165 to benefit its Infant and Child Development Services (ICDS) program.
About 350 guests sampled fine West Coast wines and craft beer from Midnight Brewery at Richmond Raceway Complex's Torque Club, along with food from local eateries. Carytown Cupcakes provided dessert. > Read more.
A Henrico High School student was one of eight students from Virginia selected as a 2015 student playwright as part of the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community's 26th annual New Voices for the Theater Festival of New Works, which will be held July 10-11 at VCU.
Elaina Riddell of the Center for the Arts at Henrico HS will join the other students and bring her original one-act play to life on stage at the event. In total, 150 plays were submitted to SPARC. Riddell and the other winners will work closely with New York City-based professional playwright Bruce Ward for the event. > Read more.
In the mood for some spring shopping? Eastern Henrico FISH will hold their semi-annual yard sale this weekend – funds raised assist at-risk families in Eastern Henrico County. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will hold a spring plant sale which is among the largest in the region with more than 40 vendors selling plants ranging from well-known favorites to rare exotics. Put on your detective hat and find out “whodunnit” at the movie “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “The Case of the Dead Flamingo Dancer,” presented by the Henrico Theatre Company May 1-17. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
It’s that time of year – charity races are popping up everywhere! On Saturday, St. Joseph’s Villa will be the site of the sixth annual CASA Superhero Run and the fifth annual Richmond Free to Breathe Run/Walk will be held in Innsbrook. Also in Innsbrook, the 2015 Richmond Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis will take place on Sunday. If you’re more into relaxation than exercise, check out Wine for Cure’s Dogwood Wine Festival or the Troubadours Community Theatre Group’s production of “West Side Story” at the Henrico Theatre. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
- More News
Apr. 16, 2015Click here to read the print edition.
- More Entertainment
- More Obituaries
- More Community
- More Opinions
- More Sports
ClassifiedsDONATE YOUR CAR, TRUCK OR BOAT TO HERITAGE FOR THE BLIND. Free 3 Day Vacation, Tax Deductible, Free Towing, All Paperwork Taken Care Of. 888-617-1682
CalendarVictor Rohe, vice president, client advisor, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, will share insights on today’s most critical economic and investment topics from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Grapevine Restaurant,… Full text