The entertainment showcased at MCA’s Music at the Mill, a concert benefit for McClain Christian Academy, on Saturday night was top-shelf, songwriter “royalty.”
Hands down, the line up of Music’s elite truly exceeded the sold-out crowd’s expectations.
Female Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, two awards each from the American Music Awards and Billboard Music awards, and a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance is an impressive way to introduce the host of MCA’s Music at the Mill. But for Gretchen Wilson, “great mother” and “Wilson County neighbor” seemed a more fitting description on Saturday evening as she opened the night with her hit “Here For The Party” and left the crowd clamoring to hear more of one of the best voices in the music industry.
She told the audience she was thrilled to be with them and support McClain Christian Academy – the school she chose to meet the high expectations she has set for her daughter’s education. She treated the audience to her new single “Work Hard, Play Harder” the title track from her soon-to-be-released album, “I Got Your Country Right Here” (www.gretchenwilson.com) that she recorded at her “Studio 27” recording studio on her recently established “Red Neck Records” label. The state-of-the-art recording studio is located on her 300+ acre Lebanon estate. She embraces being part of Wilson County and has graciously given back to the community that she is proud to call home.
The artists, a who’s who list of singer/songwriters, are no strangers to the top of the Billboard charts. Their pedigrees boast double digit awards for BMI Songwriter of the Year, Grammy award winners, Artists of the Century award winners and many others.
Performers included Even Stevens, Richie McDonald, Leslie Satcher, Paul Overstreet, Scotty Emerick, Alex Harvey, Richard Leigh, Casey Beathard, Michael Loudermilk, Rhean Boyer and Lebanon’s Keith Burns – each, without a doubt, offered top shelf entertainment; and delivered a show like no other! Also, guests were treated to a special performance by Cherie Oakley, Gretchen’s back-up singer, who sang a Leslie Satcher song – accompanied by Wilson and Satcher.
Many of the performers, who are also parents of students who attend McClain Christian Academy, spoke from their heart about the school and what makes it so special to them and their children.
Donna Shaffer, MCA’s director of Schools, said, “On behalf of all the students, staff and board of directors we humbly thank the artists who donated their time and amazing talents. We also thank the committee members, all MCA staff and parents, for their countless hours dedicated to making this event successful. Of course the event would not be possible without Gretchen’s resources, talent and support and we whole-heartily thank her. Also, a special thank you to Even Stevens, who serves as a key component on the Music at the Mill committee and who played a critical role in making this night possible.”
Stevens who penned “Suspicions" (Tim McGraw), "I Love A Rainy Night" (Eddie Rabbitt), "When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman" (Dr. Hook) to name just a few, performed his magic and shared his talent with the crowd.
“Work Hard, Play Harder Platinum Sponsor” Tab Kirkland, HTK Wealth Management, spoke briefly to the crowd and asked them to join him in celebrating the life of Isabella Cadena, an MCA first grader who tragically lost her life in January. He said, “Isabella’s school and the school family played a very important role in her short life. We welcome the Cadena family and are proud that we can be the Platinum sponsor for the Second Annual MCA’s Music at the Mill and honor Isabella's life.”
A moment of silence for Isabella was a very special part of the evening. In addition, live auction items raised monies that will create a MCA scholarship in Isabella’s memory.
The event could rival anything Nashville or other metropolitan venues across the nation could offer and the crowd was on their feet more than once applauding feverously at some of the performances, one of the parents said. After hearing Alex Harvey’s performance of “My Jesus” and participating in the first standing ovation of the evening, one guest said, “We just saw greatness on stage, this is absolutely incredible.”
"To say that the event exceeded our expectations doesn’t even seem to capture the essence of the event. We were all spellbound by the talent and were thrilled to have our community truly embrace the event," Shaffer said. “The intimacy of the venue coupled with the meet-and-greet after the show afforded guests a chance to be up close and personal with these fine artists.
“We are so thankful also to our wonderful sponsoring partners, HTK Wealth Management, Wilson Bank & Trust, University Medical Center, Performance Food Group, Cracker Barrel, Wilson Post/Main Street Media, WANT FM 98.9, Lebanon Democrat, Your Cup Counts Coffee, Lamar Advertising, Dr. Troy Long Dentistry, and Lee & Lee Attorneys who supported us in bringing this singer/songwriter's night to Lebanon. Also, a special thank you to MJ Lucas, WANT/WCOR, who kept us on track throughout the evening as she served as emcee for the second year in a row,” Shaffer added.
For more information about MCA, visit www.mcclainchristian.org or call 444-2678.