June 2021 Issue
By Kelly Hunter
Photography by Nancy J. Reynolds
Annie Akins is a professional singer who performs all over the Golden Isles. In fact, when we sat down to talk, she had just finished 13 gigs in 13 days. After resting the previous day, she was off to another one that very afternoon! She has been making a living as a performer her entire adult life. Annie knew at an early age that she was destined to be in front of an audience. “I really thought I was going to be an actress,” she said, “but I’m delighted with my choice and career.”
Annie was raised in the burbs of Chicago and on Long Island, New York. She returned to Chicago for college. After graduating with a B.S. in Speech from Northwestern University (where she primarily studied Theatre), Annie quickly realized that making a living as an actress was going to be a serious challenge. Completely broke, she got together with a guitar-playing friend and formed the duo Scratch and Sniff. They played on train platforms as licensed Chicago street musicians. Annie says she learned two things: “How to sing louder than the “L” and crowd control.” She also taught improvisation at ImprovOlympic and worked at the Practical Theatre Company, which sent several cast members on to Saturday Night Live. Annie was even a singing wench at King’s Manor, a medieval dinner theatre in Chicago. She and the other wenches still get together to this day.
After her daughter was born, Annie felt overwhelmed as a single mother in a large city, so she decided she needed to be closer to family. By that time, her mother had moved back to Glynn County. Annie’s mom’s people were here, and she and her brother had spent glorious summers playing in the waves as children. She may have moved to Georgia because she needed her mom, but Annie soon discovered that her mom needed her more. “I had come down here to have my mom help me,” Annie said, “but soon after my arrival here, it became clear to me that I needed to help her.” She was not alone, though. There were aunts and uncles to lend a hand. “This was always a second home,” according to Annie, “I was happy to come down to visit Mom anyway, and once I got here, I realized ‘I’m needed’ and this is a great place to be. So I stayed.”
Eventually, Annie became part of a blended family, raising two girls and two boys. Unfortunately, she was destined for an adventure that few plan, but many have experienced: divorce and single motherhood. It was an incredibly difficult time for everyone in the family. The stolen joy left Annie unable to sing for two years. As many who have gone through divorce experience, certain friends just disappear. However, Annie had friends that stayed, kids that needed her, and an undeniable drive to perform. She did sing again, and in doing so, she found her joy.
Now, Annie’s facing an empty nest. “This was the goal all along,” she said, “to raise them up and send them on their way.” With a daughter out of college and a son about to graduate from Glynn Academy, new adventures surely await. For the first time in a long time, she can let her needs and wants guide her decision making. “It’s just a weird shift, because it’s so sudden,” she explains. “I mean for 20 years you’re going along and doing this and everything’s kind of moving along the way, and suddenly they’re gone, it’s a very sudden thing.”
Since moving back to Georgia, Annie has spent many hours bodysurfing off St. Simons Island. As soon as the water is warm enough, she is out there in her happy place. She’s been stung by jellyfish and snapped at by crabs. She’s seen Portuguese man o’ war and even a sea turtle. “I’ve seen the most cool things out there.” Three years ago, Annie had an encounter with a creature she had seen before, but never this close. She was standing in the surf, waiting for the next wave, when something big bumped her hard enough to knock her off her feet. She essentially did a backflip in the water. Ever the optimist, she thought, “Wow! Is that a dolphin?” As she was getting herself righted again, a four-foot nurse shark swam through her hands. “I stood for a second,” Annie said she thought about staying in and surfing some more, “and then I thought, ‘Nah, I’m done for the day.’ I had a big bruise for about two months.”
Before Annie became a mom, she traveled extensively. She has visited Hungary, Romania and Italy. Annie’s hoping to combine her love of travel with her musical career. She has performed on the cruise ship that docks in Brunswick, but she’s open to the idea of taking her act onto bigger ships. For now, Annie’s still singing all over the Golden Isles, but who knows where her adventures will take her next?
Favorite Scent: Summer morning after it rains. Annie has a special connection to scents, as her father worked with fragrances and used to bring home all sorts of little samples. She said she had the most unique perfume collection in high school.
Family Ties: Her mother’s maiden name was Missildine, a family name that should be familiar to Glynn County natives.
Famous Audiences: Annie has performed for Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.
Proud mom: Daughter Rachel, Son Scott, Stepdaughter Tori and Stepson Tyler
Bucket List: Visit Paris, surf on a board, drive a race car
Most Popular: During a two-month back-packing trip around Australia, Annie won two cases of beer in a karaoke contest. She was very popular with her fellow travelers from then on.
Volunteering: She was Musical Director for the Golden Isles Penguin Project for their first three productions.