Kellie Pickler performance to benefit area veterans
Country music star Kellie Pickler is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8, on the summer stage at Tioga Downs, located in Nichols, N.Y. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group (STVSG).
"American Idol" fans will remember Pickler as a season five contestant on the popular show, finishing in sixth place and instantly winning the hearts of fans. Now eight years later, Pickler remains a fan favorite and one of the most recognizable Idol alumni.
"Dancing with the Stars" (DWTS) fans won't soon forget Pickler's win with Derek Hough during the sixteenth season of that show in 2013. The mirrored ball trophy and Kellie's DWTS dress from the finale are on display in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.
Since 2006, Pickler's recording history has consistently delivered. Her first album, "Small Town Girl," produced three Top 20 hits, including her songwriter award winning "Red High Heels." On the self-titled "Kellie Pickler," she followed with four chart hits, reaching the Top 10 with "Best Days of Your Life," a catchy tune she wrote with then touring partner, Taylor Swift. Pickler's third album "100 Proof" was described by Rolling Stone as "one of the best traditionalist albums," showcasing a more pure country sound.
We caught up with Kellie Pickler who was on the beginning leg of her summer tour, and prior to a show in Colorado. Pickler's down-to-earth nature was evident as she first chatted about her latest album, "The Woman I Am," released in November 2013. The album contains both poignant and sassy songs, including the album title song as well as the most recent single "Little Bit Gypsy."
The music video for the song "Someone Somewhere Tonight" reunited Pickler with DWTS partner Derek Hough and features her extraordinary dancing skills. The song, first recorded by Walt Wilkins, and then later by country music legend Kenny Rogers and again by Pam Tillis, is a song near and dear to Pickler's heart.
"This song is a story about life, and that is what country music is all about," she said during the recent interview, and added, "It is real country music."
When asked what song she would identify as her signature song, Pickler answered, "Red High Heels is the first country song that most fans identify me with." Regarding her music overall, Pickler commented, "I enjoy being a storyteller with traditional country music."
Recent lyrics that she has written or co-written prove her diverse songwriting talent, for example the song "Selma Drye" on her latest album, which Pickler penned about her spunky great-grandmother.
Pickler shared that while growing up in the small town of Albemarle, N.C., "traditional country music was my inspiration," with the likes of Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton spinning on her turntable. A collector of vintage vinyl records herself, Pickler's recent album, "The Woman I Am" is now available as a limited edition vinyl copy, autographed by Pickler, and can be ordered at KelliePickler.com.
In addition to music, touring and television, Kellie Pickler's humanitarian spirit is admirable, and she is often busy with charitable endeavors. She is a spokesperson for the American Lung Association's "LUNGFORCE" initiative, putting a spotlight on the number one cancer killer of women, of which her beloved grandmother passed away from.
Pickler commented during the phone interview, "It's important to create as much awareness as possible. Lung cancer actually takes more lives annually than breast cancer."
An avid supporter of U.S. Troops, Pickler has participated in seven USO tours and currently serves as the USO's Ambassador for their "Every Moment Counts" campaign. Pickler shared, "We all need to take every opportunity to say thank you."
Proceeds from the Kellie Pickler concert at Tioga Downs will benefit the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group (STVSG). In a press release dated July 23, 2014, Tioga Downs Marketing Director, Linn Redder, announced, "As a way of giving back to those who have so heroically served and protected us, all proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group. In addition, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, Jeff Gural, will personally match the amount of every ticket sold, making the final donation $30 per ticket."
Gural stated, "Once again, I look forward to our annual concert where all the ticket sales go to help our veterans here in the Southern Tier."
Redder's announcement continued, "Last year's benefit concert for the STVSG, which featured Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, was a resounding success, raising over $80,000. Tioga Downs hopes to top last year's amount with a goal of raising $100,000 or more."
Since 2011, the STVSG has been a valuable resource and information hub for local veterans, service members and their families. Dedicated professionals at STVSG are well versed in helping veterans, covering a territory of nine counties within the southern tier of New York and northeast Pennsylvania. STVSG partners with approximately 70 area organizations to help offer a broad range of services, offering assistance to enhance physical, emotional and economic wellbeing.
Current President and STVSG founder, Al Eaton, a U.S. Navy Veteran, stated during a recent telephone interview that STVSG will initially listen to a request to determine if they can help, or will refer the request to another organization that can better meet the need.
"There is no typical request," Eaton explained, "and the networking helps address the various needs."
For example, Eaton shared a story about a veteran who was encouraged by his doctor to start a walking program in order to increase his circulation. Because it was difficult for the veteran to walk on the hill near his home, STVSG was able to network, and quickly found a treadmill, at no cost to the veteran.
Kellie Pickler's music and personality attracts concertgoers of all ages, and the small-town girl with the big heart and beautiful voice is sure to captivate the Tioga Downs audience. When asked during a phone interview what fans can expect at the Aug. 8 show, Kellie Pickler replied, "It will be so much fun, and yet simple, just the band and me."
Tickets for Kellie Pickler are on sale at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Tioga Downs Gift Shop for $15. An outdoor event, there are no refunds or exchanges due to weather related cancellations. All proceeds will benefit the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group; follow them on Facebook and check out their website at stvsg.org. Follow Kellie Pickler on Facebook, Twitter, or on the web at kelliepickler.com. Follow Tioga Downs on Facebook or visit their website, tiogadowns.com.