FESTIVAL PREVIEW - Country music was part of the school day at four area high schools Thursday.
Fulton City High School students and staff members had the opportunity to kick off their morning with a preview of this weekend’s KYTN Country Music Fest.
Over 10,000 people are expected to converge on the Twin Cities – South Fulton, TN and Fulton, KY – Saturday for the festival headlined by country sensation/TV star Kellie Pickler. Pickler finished sixth place in the fifth season of American Idol, the music competition that just wrapped up on Fox TV after 15 seasons. Also appearing on the Unity Park stage Saturday will be Brandon Holland, Jason Pritchett, Charee White, Broseph H. Lee, and Trailer Choir.
The price of the festival’s ticket fits everyone’s budget – a whopping FREE.
Thursday’s festival preview at FHS was hosted by Four Rivers Foundation, an educational organization founded by Robbie Rudolph, a former Kentucky lieutenant governor, and his wife, Lisa. Four Rivers works closely with Carlisle County, Fulton County, Fulton Independent and Hickman County school districts to, as their website states, “ensure that all students can successfully become a viable part of the region’s work force.”
Four Rivers does this through programs such as Rudolph’s Readers, career fairs, high school/college credit program and the Four Rivers Scholarships Program.
Also at FHS Thursday were Dianne Owen, Four Rivers Foundation director, and Jeff Campbell, chairman of the Four Rivers Foundation Board. Neither are strangers to FIS, as Owen is a former superintendent of the district and Campbell is a FHS alumni.
Four Rivers provided T-shirts for FHS students and staff to wear Thursday. The students and staff members plan to wear the T-shirts at the festival Saturday in order to show off their association with the foundation.
Prior to the musical performance, Rudolph stood in his alma mater’s gymnasium and offered words of encouragement to the current generation of Fulton City Bulldogs.
“You’re not going to succeed unless you believe you can succeed,” Rudolph said.
Stating he didn’t want to just talk about the reading program or the dual credit program sponsored by Four Rivers, Rudolph said he wanted to tell the world how successful the Fulton students truly are by proving their success rate in the classroom and out of it via ACT scores, making certain they are college and career ready and entering college as second semester freshmen or first semester sophomores from earning college credit while still in high school.
Barbie Hardy, marketing director for Thunderbolt Broadcasting, explained to the students how the local festival came about and how the particular artists were chosen to perform prior to introducing Holland, a rising star in Nashville music.
“Everything is achievable in life,” Holland told the Fulton students before ever singing a note.
"At the end of the day, it’s about hanging in there and fighting the fight. Stick to what you’re doing and set the course. Follow your dreams with whatever you do,” the singer/songwriter told the group.
For his portion of the FHS performance, Holland opted to sing an original tune he wrote and then cover Jason Aldean’s hit “Cruise.” The latter song saw students and staff up on their feet dancing and singing along.
White encouraged the students to make a difference in the world. She told them how she grew up in a small town much like Fulton that also only had one traffic light, but she didn’t allow that to taint her musical dreams.
White, too, sang an original song and ended the morning’s performance with her rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic “Sweet Home Alabama.” Several notes into the familiar tune, White told the students she bet they had never seen the song “performed this way” as she began to play the guitar behind her back and backwards, not missing a note.
Saturday will begin with a 5K/Fun Mile at 8 a.m. with proceeds from entry fee going to the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in South Fulton. Opening ceremony for the festival is set for 2:45 p.m. followed by local contest winner Kimberlie Helton Band kicking off the music. Pickler is slated to wrap up the festival by starting her performance around 9:30 p.m.
A complete lineup for the event may be found by going to http://www.thunderboltradio.com online.
More photos from Thursday's event at FHS may be found by clicking on the Photo Galleries link on the main page of this website.