Monday, May 24, 2010
– Alan Jackson honored the fallen miners and rescue workers from April's Upper Big Branch mining disaster with a benefit concert performance Saturday at the Charleston, West Va. Civic Center.
The 31 families affected and 230 rescue workers who were on site at the nation's biggest mining disaster in 4 decades were offered free tickets to the show. Twenty-seven families who lost loved ones and the two whose family members survived met with Jackson before the show, including the family of Cory Davis, who would have been 21 on Saturday. His family presented Jackson with a bracelet with David's birthday on it, and Jackson wore it throughout the show.
Jackson kicked off his Freight Train tour date with Gone Country and told the packed auditorium that, "We're here to honor the ones that we lost or were injured, and we're gonna celebrate their lives with some music."
During the show, Jackson's long time pedal steel player Robbie Flint, originally from Sylvester, West Va., played the haunting ballad Coalwood as the faces of the miners flashed on two large screens on either side of the stage. As each name and face appeared, cheers reverberated through the crowd. Jackson followed the heart-felt tribute with his post 9/11 anthem, Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.
Profits from the benefit go to the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund, administrated by the West Virginia Council of Churches. Rev. Dennis Sparks, executive director of the fund said, "Alan Jackson was the right music star for the moment to come to West Virginia and honor the memories of the miners lost at the Upper Big Branch and to all miners who go into the mines each day; his music and performance offers a genuine expression of the hearts of our people. We offer a heartfelt thank you to Alan Jackson, his band and his entire team. The Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund will be enormously enhanced through his concert."
Gov. Joe Manchin's office named Jackson an "Honorary West Virginian" for his efforts on behalf of the community.
Donations are being accepted by the fund.