Francesca Battistelli, who’s produced multiple hits on the Christian charts, will be the first of a group of decorated performers to take Festival of the Bells stage in Hillsboro this year when she opens at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 3.
“She writes her own music, she’s younger, and a lot of her music, the Christian stuff, I think it will really reach out to the young and old alike,” said Brian Robinson, who heads the group that puts on the Christian concert each year at the festival. “She sings a lot about the trials and tribulations she’s walked through and I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
Battistelli’s latest hit “Write Your Story” is in the top three on the contemporary charts, Robinson said. But she’s also had several other top hits.
Her debut album “My Paper Heart” produced four major Christian hits including “I’m Letting Go”, “Free To Be Me”, “It’s Your Life” and “Beautiful Beautiful”. The release was the biggest-seller for a debut Christian artist in nearly a decade and the longest-running No.1 for a female artist in Billboard Christian Album Chart history, according to Battistelli’s website (francescamusic.com).
It earned Battistelli several Dove Award nominations and she won the Female Vocalist of the Year and Short Form Video awards in April of 2010, plus a Grammy nomination.
She’s been nominated for several Dove Awards since.
Robinson said Battistelli is currently touring with Amy Grant, who played at the Festival of Bells three years ago.
“She’s high energy. I just feel like people will leave there feeling good about themselves, especially those who go through trials from time to time,” Robinson said.
A trio of local performers will take the stage before Battistelli, but Robinson said exactly who that will be has not been confirmed yet.
Battistelli’s performance will kick off the festival’s 30th anniversary celebration. She will be followed on Friday and Saturday by a lineup that includes three performers that have had No. 1 hits – Parmalee, Frankie Ballard and Eric Paslay – plus Zach Paxson.
Robinson said he decided a few years it would be nice to have a Christian concert open the festival before the featured entertainers on Friday and Saturday. Last year he had help from 21 churches and businesses.
“It’s just about doing something different for our community and opening up the Christian side of things,” Robinson said. “I think it brings in a different crowd.”
Jeff Gilliland may be reached at 937-393-3456 ext. 209 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.