Rising country singer to perform at benefit

August 28, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND and KATE COLEMAN

Country music songstress Jessica Andrews will perform Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Hagerstown.

The concert will benefit Food Resources Inc., a Hagerstown-based agency that provides low-cost food to local nonprofit organizations and families. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Borderline, a Tri-State area classic rock and country band, will open for Andrews. Her boyfriend, Marcel - a songwriter - will give a short acoustic performance before Andrews takes the stage at 8 p.m.

The 19-year-old Tennessee native is no stranger to gigs that help others. She's the official celebrity spokeswoman for LeBonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., the place where she had back surgery as a 7-year-old. Just last week she hosted "Stars For Storm Aid" Celebrity Golf Tournament in Jackson, Tenn., a benefit for victims of deadly tornadoes that hit Jackson and west Tennessee last spring.

Andrews' star has continued to rise since she launched her career with "Heart Shaped World" in 1999. Andrews won the Academy of Country Music's Top New Female Vocalist Award in 1999, and 2001's "Who I Am," spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart.


Andrews first began taking her voice seriously after winning a talent competition in her hometown of Huntingdon, Tenn., at age 10. She sang a Whitney Houston arrangement of "I Will Always Love You" and counts that singer among her diverse musical influences, company that includes Elvis Presley, Madonna and her mother.

Andrews says her mom sang with bands until she was nine months pregnant with her, and continued performing while her daughter was a toddler.

The young songbird has opened for country powerhouses Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood, shared a tour bill with Billy Gilman and sung the national anthem at the Indianapolis 500.

Andrews' third album, "Now," was released in April. She recorded the CD after taking a year off from touring. She wanted to focus on her music, she says.

She has co-writing credits on two of the CD's songs. She describes "Good Time" as a "let's just let our hair down and have fun" song. "There's More To Me Than You" is an assertive tune about someone deciding to get out of a long-term relationship.

The idea behind the song has nothing to do with her, Andrews says. "I wanted to write something with attitude."

The process of writing songs is different all the time. Sometimes she'll just hear a melody; sometimes an idea will come while she's reading an e-mail. She says she doesn't have to "personally relate" to the idea behind the song.

Andrews says she has gone through some big changes since her first two albums. She's moved out on her own. "I've just grown up."

The grown-up Andrews will be traveling to Hagerstown with her six-member band and crew.

"We have lots of fun," she says of her show.

And she's sure to be a hit in Hagers-town, says Beth Elbin, Food Resources board treasurer.

Elbin - whose husband, Glenn Elbin, runs a sideline sound production company out of the couple's home - organized the effort to bring Andrews to Hagerstown. The Elbins have been involved with past shows at The Maryland Theatre and wanted their next effort to benefit Food Resources. Jessica Andrews seemed like the ideal performer for the task, Beth Elbin says.

"We just thought she would appeal to a lot of people around here," she says.

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