Ricky Skaggs, The Whites to headline Jonesborough event

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 6, 2012 at 11:01 PM

Grammy Award-winning country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs will be the headline performer at this year’s Jonesborough Days celebration. The Whites, the award-winning gospel group featuring Skaggs’ wife, Sharon, and her family, also will perform at the celebration.

Jonesborough Events Coordinator Melinda Copp said, in addition to Skaggs and The Whites, other musical groups are being scheduled for a new Friday night lineup of entertainment and activities that has been added to the celebration that this year will be called “Jonesborough Days & Nights” to emphasize its appeal to a younger crowd of festival-goers.

While the draw of a big name entertainer is something that has long been desired for the annual July celebration in Jonesborough, Copp said the cost has been prohibitive and would not have occurred this year without the assistance of former NBA team owner George Shinn, who secured Skaggs’ commitment to perform out of his personal desire to bring a new musical element to the decades-old celebration in Jonesborough.

Shinn and his wife Denise and their TruLight Foundation will host a benefit “Lunch Date with Ricky Skaggs and The Whites” beginning at noon March 14 at their Daily Bread Restaurant at 125 E. Jackson Blvd. The benefit will include a meet-and-greet session with Skaggs and The Whites and a possible performance by Skaggs.

Tickets to the lunch are $75 and will be available at the door or may be reserved by calling 888-925-9521. Proceeds from the lunch will go to the Jonesborough Area Ministerial Association Pantry.

More information about this year’s Jonesborough Days & Nights festival will be announced following the lunch benefit.

“We are excited about hosting legendary performer Ricky Skaggs and the Whites at the restaurant, especially for such a great cause as the JAMA Food Pantry,” Shinn said. “It will be such a great opportunity for country music fans, and also a great kickoff to announcing the concerts at the Jonesborough Days & Nights Festival.”

Skaggs and his band, Kentucky Thunder, are scheduled to perform June 30 in a gated concert to be held behind the Washington County Courthouse. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. and will be followed by Jonesborough’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display. Tickets to the concert are $15.

The Whites will perform a free concert behind the courthouse on July 1 beginning at 1 p.m.

A 14-time Grammy winner, Skaggs also has received awards from Country Music Association, the International Bluegrass Music Association and other major music industry organizations. The Whites, featuring sisters Sharon and Cheryl White and their father, Buck White, have been among gospel music’s most popular performers since the 1980s. They are regulars on the weekly Grand Ole Opry show produced in Nashville and their album with Skaggs, “Salt of the Earth,” won a Grammy for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Album of 2008.

A portion of the proceeds from Skaggs’ concert will go to the TruLight Foundation. Other fundraising attractions for the foundation planned during the festival include “Speed Street,” a classic car display featuring Shinn’s personal car collection and a variety of cars owned by invited guests.

The TruLight Foundation was established by Shinn, former owner of the Charlotte and New Orleans Hornets, last year following a successful battle with prostate cancer. Shinn said he established the foundation in order to devote his life and resources to Christian service and aid people in need throughout the world through organizations such as the Salvation Army and medical and education projects in under-developed nations. The foundation also promotes healthy and cancer-free lifestyles through nurturing the body, mind and spirit.

Jonesborough Days, a weekend celebration that features a variety of arts and crafts, storytelling, music and children’s activities, brings an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people to Jonesborough annually.

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