Leading Songwriter Joined By Surprise Celebrity Guests at Ryman

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One of Nashville’s leading songwriters and surprise celebrity guests are lending their time and talent for a unique concert at the Ryman Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, to benefit the education program of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

“A Songwriter’s Story …. An Evening with Marcus Hummon and Friends” is an original production reflecting the artist’s success in both the music industry and the local theatre scene.

Writing 35 to 40 songs a year for BMG for the past decade, Hummon’s songs include Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road,” which held the top spot on the country charts for six weeks earlier this year. Other Hummon hits include Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly,” The Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy, Take Me Away,” Tim McGraw’s “One of These Days,” and Wynonna’s “Only Love.”

Tickets for the performance are $15. Successful songwriters David Lee, Bill Luther, and James Slater will perform in the opening act.

After intermission, Hummon will appear in his original production. The names of the celebrities joining him will not be revealed in advance, but audiences can count on appearances by artists who have recorded his songs.

In a rare crossover from the commercial music industry to theatre, Hummon has written six full-length musicals, including the recent Atlanta and Warrior, a work about Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, both produced by Actors Bridge Ensemble, and Francis of Guernica, a musical inspired by a Pablo Picasso painting which was produced by Tennessee Repertory Theatre. Both Warrior and “Francis” were presented to TPAC Education student audiences.

The artists who will perform in the opening act have written hit songs for some of country music’s best known artists, including John Michael Montgomery, who recently recorded “Letters From Home” and Mark Wills who had a number one hit with “19 Somethin’,” both songs by David Lee. Songwriter Bill Luther’s long list of country hits includes Tim McGraw’s “My Best Friend” and “Things Change,” Kenny Chesney’s “What I Need To Do” and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “Let’s Make Love.” James Slater’s credits include Martina McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” Jessica Andrews’ “There’s More to Me Than You,” and Tim McGraw’s “That’s Why God Made Mexico.”

The performance is one element of a larger fundraising event for TPAC Education. At $500 a plate, the 23rd annual “Premiere Evening” begins with dinner at BellSouth at 6:00 p.m. and concludes with the entertainment at the Ryman. That event, nearly sold-out, is co-chaired by Byron Trauger, a local attorney and founding partner of the firm Trauger, Ney, and Tuke, and Brian Williams, a senior vice president of SunTrust Bank and founder/director of its music private banking group.

“Whether you attend the dinner or the performance only, this is an evening of Nashville icons – a music icon in Marcus Hummon, a historic icon with the Ryman, and an architectural icon in the BellSouth building. It’s Nashville at its best,” said Trauger, who has volunteered his time to the event because “the arts touch all children in special, even magical ways. Through the performing arts, TPAC Education brings life to lessons in history, English and other subjects that our children study. I’m happy to be just a small part of that.”

Williams appreciates the fact that TPAC Education supplements the education of students in Nashville and statewide.

“I have two small children and I’m coming to the realization that no school system, public or private, is able to fully meet the needs of my children. TPAC is exposing thousands upon thousands of children to arts and education experiences that are not available otherwise,” he said.

Williams adds that he is excited about the diversity of the audience attending Premiere Evening and the concert at the Ryman.

“Byron and I come from two distinctly different worlds. You can expect a crowd that will reflect both of our constituencies, along with traditional arts supporters and fans of Marcus Hummon and country music,” he said. “I am so excited to be working with Marcus, this incredible artist who is writing an original piece for this one night, taking us into his world for a once-in-a-lifetime performance that our guests will remember for a long, long time.”

The honorary chairs for Premiere Evening are Jack and Barbara Bovender and Marty and Betty Dickens. Presenting sponsors are BellSouth and HCA/TriStar. SunTrust is the entertainment sponsor.

Serving more than 1.3 million children in the past 23 years, TPAC Education is one of the leading arts-in-education initiatives in the United States with programs for all ages, including adults. Through TPAC Education, students attend performances, teachers are provided with training and resources, and teaching artists visit classrooms, from pre-school through high school.

For more information and an invitation to Premiere Evening, including the dinner at BellSouth, call 615/687-4286.

Tickets to the concert only are available at the TPAC Box Office (downtown or Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills), at the Ryman Box Office, at all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling Ticketmaster at 615/255-9600. Tickets are also available online at Ryman.com and tpac.org.

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to providing and supporting the presentation of the performing arts to the citizens of Tennessee. Its four stages are home to Broadway in Nashville at TPAC, Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, The Nashville Symphony, Tennessee Repertory Theatre and a variety of special engagements. TPAC administers one of the largest and most comprehensive arts-in-education programs in the United States, offering learning opportunities for children and adults. The organization has served more than 1.3 million students from pre-school to high school over the past two decades. For more information, visit the web site www.tpac.org.