Clark County’s supporters of the Salvation Army have hit on a sure-fire way to raise awareness and money for the local service unit.
Last year, they got Kentucky country and bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs to perform at the Leeds Center for the Arts to benefit the charity. That worked out so well, that this year, they brought in another Christian musical group: The Isaacs.
Although I’m not really a fan of southern gospel, I was surprised when the family group kicked off their show last Saturday at Central Baptist Church with a hand-clapping, foot-stomping bluegrass medley that included such classics as “I’ll Fly Away” and “There is Power in the Blood.”
I do like live bluegrass, and I thought: This could be good.
It also was sometimes funny and at other times moving. One song, introduced as being “for all the caregivers” really touched me because it reminded me of how my mother, Jeannette Patrick, cared for and visited my grandfather every day for many years at a nursing home, then later became a Red Cross volunteer at the hospital. She still sings with others to residents at the nursing home off Rockwell Road.
My mom, by the way, is a fan of The Isaacs and couldn’t see them that night because she and Dad had company. But she convinced me to use the ticket Shannon Cox gave me, and I’m glad I did.
Without knowing it until later, I found myself sitting next to Jimmy Yeary, the husband of one of the singers, Sonya Isaacs. Yeary’s something of a Nashville celebrity in his own right. He’s the lead singer for Shenandoah, and you may have heard a current hit he penned for Rascal Flatts: “Why Wait.”
Sonya was also a backup singer in Miley Cyrus’ movie, and brother Ben Isaacs has worked with such legendary musicians as Bill Gaither and Ralph Stanley.
Sister Becky Isaacs Bowman; their mother, Lily Isaacs; banjo player Thomas Wyrot; and drummer Nathan Fauscett are the rest of the group.
Lily’s story is inspiring. The daughter of Jewish Holocaust refugees, she got her start in New York City’s folk music scene in the 1960s, married a fellow musician and later converted to Christianity.
I bought my mother a CD of “Lily’s Story” that I’ll want to borrow soon.
But back to the benefit.
“It was a very big success,” said Linda Winburn, who asked the group to perform in Winchester after hearing them in concert.
The Isaacs, who were playing another concert last week for the Salvation Army in Louisville, were pleased with their Winchester visit.
“They’re super people, and they were really thrilled to be here with us,” Linda said.
Judging by the turnout of about 600 people and the enthusiasm of the crowd, the audience was also thrilled.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd,” Linda said.
Most of the tickets were not pre-sold, but were handed out at the door, so the organizers didn’t really know how many folks to expect.
The concert raised about $9,000. Of that amount, the Salvation Army cleared about $1,500 — but that’s all money that stays here in Clark County to provide emergency relief for people who lose their homes to fire or flooding, provide food from God’s Pantry to Community Services, help families with utilities assistance and send kids to camp at Lake Dale Hollow.
The money makes a difference, and the concert gives the Salvation Army the kind of attention it might not get otherwise.
As I learned from a fundraising consultant, ticket sales and admission fees are ways to get people’s attention. The large donations often come later, after donors have had a chance to hear about the cause and decide whether it’s one they want to support.
And the Salvation Army is a good cause.
Tonight the First Church of God on Colby Road will be offering a different kind of Christian music when it hosts Building 429 for its annual Freedom Fest.
The Christian rock group won the Dove Award in 2005 for best new artist of the year, and will be performing an outdoor concert about 8:30, before the church’s fireworks show.
First Church of God was my family’s church for about 30 years, but I haven’t attended a worship service there since I was a young man. I’m looking forward to going back tonight for the Freedom Fest.
I hope to see many of you there.