Thursday, February 15, 2007
– Gretchen Wilson went back to her roots to perform at smaller venues and raise money for charity last week. Five dates in five cities netted more than $163,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"This is how I grew up, singing in bars. I miss that intimacy," said Wilson. "I've loved playing stadiums and arenas, donšt get me wrong, but when you are in a club you can actually see and touch the fans. Their reaction to the music is immediate. The biggest bonus, though, is to be able to raise money for some very worthwhile organizations."
Wilson kicked off the week in Austin, partnering with KASE radio at Graham Central Station to raise money for Make-A-Wish. The next stop was Albuquerque for a KRST listener lunch and performance at a local restaurant and an evening performance at Graham Central Station with KBQI which benefited St. Jude. She spent the next day in Oklahoma City performing intimate acoustic concert for listeners of KTST and KXXY radio.
In Little Rock, Ark., the fire marshal started turning fans away after 2,000 people had entered the Clear Channel Metroplex to see Wilson play KSSN's St. Jude fundraiser. Blocked and backed up streets and fist fights ensued among the throngs of fans who were turned away at the door. "This was the biggest promotion we have ever done here," said Clear Channel Regional VP of Programming Phil Hunt. "There were fights, traffic jams, lives threatened and police called at every location where tickets were distributed. People wanted to see Gretchen Wilson in concert."
She wrapped up the tour Friday night with a sold-out event at the Gibson Beale Street Showcase in Memphis. The event drew 600-plus fans who donated $108,000 to St. Jude.
"This was one of the most fun weeks I've had since this rocket took off three years ago," said Wilson. "These folks have supported me from day one, and to be able to go back, say thanks and raise some money at the same time has been amazing."
Wilson's third album, will hit stores in early spring with the first single "Come to Me."