AMC Vocal Group of the Year, Lady Antebellum, packed up the trucks and headed to the KFC Yum! Center yesterday for an event to support Henryville. After the deadly series of tornados hit on March 2nd, killing at least a dozen people and damaging Henryville Elementary and High School, Lady Antebellum became actively involved in the rebuilding of the Indiana town. A contest by the country music group to “Own the Prom Night,” which gave any American high school the chance to win a private Lady A concert during their prom, brought Henryville to the group’s attention.
A multitude of videos in favor of Henryville High School, not only from the students and faculty of the school, but also from neighboring Silver Creek High School, led to Henryville winning the contest. Due to prior obligations, the group was unable to perform at Henryville’s prom on its scheduled night.
Instead, Lady Antebellum scheduled an even bigger event to support the town: a benefit concert, the “Rebuilding Henryville Charity Ball,” which took place at KFC Yum! Center last night. The event consisted of a private “second prom” for Henryville juniors and seniors free of charge followed by a public concert. All proceeds raised during the public concert went to further support the town through the Disaster Relief Fund of the New Hope/Indiana Bankers Association.
Once I walked into the Yum! Center the energy and support in the air was quite evident. Thousands of Henryville and Silver Creek T-shirts were being sported by the students of the Southern Indiana schools. Lexi Weber, an 8th grader from Henryville Middle School, who will soon be attending Henryville High School, showed her appreciation for Lady Antebellum by stating, “It is a great way to raise money for our school; people got really excited about it.”
And excitement there was. Once the two hosts took the stage, it was nearly impossible to quiet the crowd. After briefly telling the story of the events that took place on March 2nd, the hosts presented a series of checks. The first check was from Lipton Iced Tea, the presenting sponsor of the event, for $50,000. Then, the much-anticipated Lady Antebellum took the stage. They presented a check for all of the money raised at the event with an extra private contribution from the group itself – for a whopping total of $235,000. The crowd was ecstatic. Emotions were running high and, I’m not going to lie, I got a bit choked up myself.
Once all the sponsors left the stage, Lady Antebellum began the concert with their title track “Own the Night.” The mood was quite somber with all of the lights in Yum! Center remaining on while the only background music was Dave Haywood on the guitar. Vocalist Charles Kelley then stopped the two other band members and stated, “Wait a minute, we came all this way. We need to do this a lot bigger.” Suddenly the black backdrop fell to the ground to reveal a big band and all of the lights in the arena went off. Spotlights came on and the entire big band began to play the song again, starting from the beginning. The entire crowd was on their feet.
Though most of the attention went to vocalists Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, guitarist and pianist Dave Haywood had an incredible performance himself. Haywood and a member of the background band each played extended solos on the acoustic guitar during the hit single, “Our Kind of Love.” Then, at the end of the band’s first hit song “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” a piano rose from below stage and lifted Haywood, who then played another guitar solo.
Being a sap, my favorite song of the night was “Hello World,” from the band’s album Need You Now. Before the band began to play, Kelley related the song to Henryville by stating, “There’s something about this song that makes me feel a ray of hope.” The song’s chorus reads, “I see a light, a little hope.” It was definitely emotional, but uplifting, for the entire crowd.
Though many of the events of March 2nd were mentioned, and relived, during this concert, the mood was definitely one of hope and inspiration. Hillary Scott stated that she hoped this gave the students of Henryville “something to smile about.” Though Lady Antebellum was the one performing, Henryville students were definitely the ones who “owned the night.” It was great concert, but an even greater cause.
Images courtesy of Ryan Armbrust of Sniper Photography