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A Grand Show of Support
NASHVILLE, TN When Charlie Daniels and his friends get together in Music City to throw a benefit concert for Veterans and their families, they roll out the red carpet for the heroes who defend our nation’s freedom.
Packed with stars paying homage to the U.S. military, the fifth annual Copperweld Charlie Daniels’ Scholarship for Heroes concert was held on March 25 at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. The event raises money and awareness for Veterans’ higher education, and helps fund up to 12 Veterans’ undergraduate educations. More than 200 Veterans are enrolled at the university through its Yellow Ribbon Program and Veterans Services Office.
The concert began with a patriotic performance by the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, followed by a presentation of the colors by the Tennessee Army National Guard.
Singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood’s performance of “God Bless the USA” moved people to place their hands over their hearts. “I never expected to write a song with that much impact,” Greenwood later told GX, as he recalled a previous performance in New York at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. “After I sang, an old Soldier came up and took his Purple Heart off and pinned it on me. It was emotional—deeply rooted. This was my way of giving back,” he said as his eyes filled with tears. Greenwood never served in the military but has played many USO tours.
Other country music stars joined the celebration at Lipscomb, including singer and “Dancing With the Stars” winner Kellie Pickler, who, despite feeling ill, gave it her all, performing “Closer to Nowhere” and her first single after competing on “American Idol”—“Red High Heels.”
“This is a really big treat,” Pickler told the audience. “It’s not every day Charlie Daniels calls you and asks you to play this show.”
Hit-maker Clint Black brought his traditional country charm to the mix, performing his award-winning song “Killin’ Time” as the audience sang along.
“This next song has the most notes we could possibly fit into a song. We checked!” Black joked, preluding “Tuckered Out.”
By midshow, Lipscomb’s Allen Arena was nearly filled to its 3,900-seat capacity with students, families, Veterans, Guard Soldiers and Active members of the military—some dressed in uniform. And the rest of the world was watching, too, as this was the first time Lipscomb streamed the concert online via StageHop.com.
Fans and service members all over the globe tweeted messages as they watched the concert; a jumbo screen beside the stage displayed the posts in real time.
@jillstacey: “Didn’t realize this event would make me so emotional. #CDBHeroes I am one proud Army wife!!!”
@DiamondMusix: “Watching a great performance and supporting the military. Couldn’t think of anything better.”
Charlie Daniels had the house on its feet as he and his band jammed on stage, playing “Southern Boy” and “Tangled Up in Blue,” a track from his new acoustic Bob Dylan tribute album, Off the Grid—Doin’ It Dylan.
And the crowd roared when surprise guest Luke Bryan joined Daniels for a duet of Daniels’ “The South’s Gonna Do It Again.”
On the next song, the stage filled with Daniels’ friends, including Bryan; vocalist Brad Arnold and bassist Justin Biltonen of the rock band 3 Doors Down; and “America’s Got Talent” competitors American Hitmen (composed of U.S. Marines who served together in Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004), and they all performed “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
After the show, when asked what the military means to him, Biltonen told GX: “We get to do what we do because of them.”
Wrapping up an emotional night, Daniels led the arena in the final song, “Amazing Grace.”
With a huge heart for the military, Daniels has spent more than 56 years entertaining people and giving back as much as he can.
“All my life, I have admired and respected the military,” Daniels told GX before the show. “I’ve been with [U.S. Soldiers] in war zones, in Iraq, Serbia and all over the place, and I’ll tell you something—they’re the best we’ve got. When they put their lives on the line, we owe them.”
That’s why, in 2010, Daniels launched his Scholarship for Heroes event at Lipscomb. It’s gratifying to see the students who benefit from this scholarship program jumpstart their dreams, he said.
“This couldn’t happen if it weren’t for the patriotism of this university and the community,” Daniels added. “You’re all here ’cause you have a heart for the military. We thank you so much for this special night.”
How You Can Help
Support a Veteran’s higher education by donating to the Charlie Daniels’ Scholarship for Heroes Fund at www.Lipscomb.edu/givetovets. Every dollar goes to benefit U.S. Veterans.
Just "Killin' Time"
Read the exclusive GX interview with country music legend Clint Black here.