By James Beaty
A major contemporary Christian musical event is planned for McAlester in November, featuring a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, another group which has won a Best New Artist Dove award and an American Idol semi-finalist.
Contemporary Christian music artist Matthew West is returning to McAlester for a November concert at the Southeast Expo Center, and he’s bringing the Sidewalk Prophets and Jason Castro with him.
Once again, the concert will benefit the Ryan McAfee Memorial Scholarship Fund,
It’s all part of West’s “Into the Light” Fall Tour. All three acts are set to perform at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester for the concert, set to begin at 7 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the Southeast Expo Center.
Currently, West has the number one song on the Billboard Christian music chartswith “Hello, My Name Is,” while The Sidewalk Prophets have the number three song with “Help Me Find It.”
Castro is familiar to many as the “American Idol” fourth place semi finalist with the long dreadlocks, who sang songs such as “Over the Rainbow” and “Hallelujah” during the program’s seventh season.
Castro released his self-titled debut album in April.
The concert will mark the fourth time West has performed in McAlester during the past five years to benefit the Ryan McAfee Memorial Scholarship Fund, created to honor the former Canadian High School basketball standout killed during a 2009 auto accident while on his way to college classes at East Central University in Ada.
Ryan McAfee’s family later found some words on his Facebook page with which they weren’t familiar. They then learned what they thought might have been a poem was actually the lyrics to what was then West’s new song “The Motions.”
When the family had the song “The Motions” played at Ryan McAfee’s funeral, someone sent an e-mail to West, who then reached out to the family. West made a connection with the McAfee family and traveled to McAlester to open his next tour with a concert at the Expo Center. During one of the tours, Lance McAfee, who is Ryan’s brother, went on tour with West and his band, sharing Ryan’s story on concert stages around the nation.
Since that first McAlester concert, West has returned every year, except last year. He’s also brought fellow Christian artists such as Mandisa, Josh Wilson and Johnny Diaz to McAlester to share the stage and to perform with him.
“We’ve been able to fund 21 scholarships because of him,” Linda McAfee said. She also gave the scholarship committee members and other volunteers lots of credit for their help in making the concerts, and the scholarships possible.
“My committee had been so supportive,” she said.
Now, West has told her he’s glad to be returning to McAlester, Linda McAfee said.
“He’s ready to come back,” she said.
Advance tickets for the three-tired concert will be $15 and are expected to go on sale soon at Shared Blessings, many McAlester churches and at several businesses, Linda McAfee said. Tickets will be $20 at the door, she said. More information will be available soon.
The Nov. 7 tour date will be special to the McAfee for more than one reason.
In addition to the date for the concert, Nov. 7 is also Ryan McAfee’s birthday, his mother said.
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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