Christian music artist Danny Gokey and rising country stars William Michael Morgan and Brett Young will be the featured performers at the 2017 Festival of the Bells in Hillsboro.
Rick Williams, festival committee president and entertainment chairman, said he believes Morgan and Young will compare favorably with other country stars that have reached the top of their profession after performing at the Hillsboro festival.
“I think Brett Young is going to boom, boom, boom,” Williams said. “I think William Michael Morgan is more like the real country a little bit, but I think he’s still going to have great success. I think both of them will carry themselves quite well.”
This year’s festival is scheduled for Thursday, July 6 through Saturday, July 8. Gokey will perform Thursday, Morgan on Friday and Young on Saturday.
Morgan, Williams said, is known for his hit “I Met A Girl,” as well as several other songs.
Young is a nominee for ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year and has a hit with “Sleeping Without You” among other songs.
Brian Robinson, the spokesperson for a group of churches in Highland County and Southwest Ohio that sponsor the Christian concert, said Gokey has had the No. 1 hit on Christian Air Play the last four weeks with “Rise.”
This will be the 12th year for the Christian concert at the festival. Robinson said he was listening to a concert several years at the festival with his daughters when God made him wonder why a Christian concert could not be part of the festival.
“I called 126 churches and that’s where we’re at today,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Gokey is a former “American Idol” contestant and that about four weeks before he was supposed to appear on the television show his wife went in for what was supposed to be routine surgery, but she died. Robinson said some of Gokey’s music comes from that and other experiences.
“We’re real excited,” Robinson said. “He has a story to tell and I think people will be able to relate to his music and the words.”
As for an opening act on Thursday, Robinson said that like in the past years, it will probably be talent from local churches.
Williams said the opening acts for the Friday and Saturday concerts have not been decided yet, but they will also likely be local talent.
He said the concerts would not be possible without the many businesses and individuals that sponsor them.
“There are a lot of sponsors in this community that care about Hillsboro and Highland County. I think it’s important to give back. That’s why this is my 31st out of 33 years,” Williams said in explaining why the festival committee puts the concerts on each year. “The committee sits down and has a budget we have to work with to pay the kind of money that we do. We just sort of work at it, go to some shows, and if we see someone we like, we try to hire them.”
He said the committee paid $11,000 to get Brad Paisley to Hillsboro a few years ago and now he demands $750,000 per show. He said the committee paid $6,000 to get Taylor Swift to the festival and now she makes $1.5 million a show.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.