One of the featured entertainers at the 2019 Festival of the Bells in Hillsboro has accomplished something none of the former performers has done. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award.
Ashley McBryde was nominated for a 2018 Grammy in the Best Country Album of the Year category for her release of “Girl Going Nowhere.”
“One of the things that’s neat about her is that we never had anyone come to the festival with a Grammy nomination already,” FOB Committee President Rick Williams said Monday. “We’ve had some that won a Grammy afterward, but none that had a nomination coming in.”
This year’s festival runs July 4-7, and for the second consecutive year it will be held on the grounds of Southern State Community College’s central campus.
Ryan Stevenson will kick the festival off Thursday evening with a Christian concert sponsored by local churches. Tyler Rich, who has hits with “The Difference” and “Eleven Eleven,” will be the headline act Friday, and McBryde will take the stage Saturday.
All three featured performances are scheduled to start around 9 p.m. There will be warmup acts each evening, but those artists have not yet been named.
“The girls are going to love Tyler Rich,” Williams said. “He’s been out with Brett Young and a whole bunch of other people, and Young brought out the biggest crowd at the festival to date. I think (Rich) will be a big draw. He’s really good in our opinion.”
Brian Robinson, organizer of the Christian concert, said he is excited about bringing Stevenson to Hillsboro.
“He struggled with some things in high school and later in life that obviously led him to the lord, and as a result his music is focused on his trials and troubles,” Robinson said. “We’re excited. I think he will reach out to our community and our young people that are struggling with issues, and we’ll see how the lord works that night.”
Williams said that while the festival missed some of its downtown flavor a year ago with the event moving from its usual location in the center of town to Southern State, the new location worked out well.
“We appreciate (SSCC President) Dr. Kevin Boys and all the other people out in that area working with us,” Williams said. “Like there is with anything new, we have a few things we can do better, and we’re going to be making a few changes.”
He said one of those will be additional parking on the Southern State grounds.
For those interested in mixing camping with the festival, the Highland County Fair Board recently announced that it will hold a Fourth of July Campout from July 3-7 at the fairgrounds in Hillsboro, located not far from Southern State. The cost is $150 for four nights with water and electric hookups for camper units.
Williams said the fair board had not contacted the festival committee about the campout, but that he would be willing to work with it.
“I think it could be good for them,” Williams said. “I applaud them. I hope what they’re trying to do will be good.”
McBryde released “Girl Going Nowhere” in March. The 11-track album features McBryde as a co-writer on every song.
Lauded by The New York Times as “an alluringly flexible singer, fluent in classic country, blues and Southern rock, with a voice that moves easily from tender to tough,” McBryde caught the attention of some of Nashville’s most raucous entertainers, landing her dates opening for Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, and most recently Miranda Lambert and Luke Combs. McBryde is currently on her first-ever headlining tour, according to her website.
Raised in a small farming community in Northern California, Rich found his love of music gathered around a Christmas tree alongside family singing holiday classics and family favorites of all genres including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Michael Jackson, The Beatles and Tom Petty. At age 8, his cousin introduced him to the country sounds of George Strait, Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson before his grandparents surprised a then 14-year-old with a guitar so he could join in the annual jams, his website said.
Fast forward to graduating college with a degree in economics, Rich moved to Los Angeles to pursue music, exploring various genres with songwriting and bands before taking the leap as a solo artist. His fan base has grown from Sacramento supporting his independent release to signing a record deal with The Valory Music Company and publishing agreement with Big Machine Music, according to the website.
Stevenson’s website says that when people listen to “No Matter What,” the singer hopes they walk away knowing that no matter what they think about themselves, Jesus still sees them through the lens of redemption and grace.
“Over the last couple of years, it’s been very easy to see the constant stress, tension and disunity within our society. We are such a distracted culture, and I feel like the first thing we do in the wake of tragedy is attempt to speak to the issues at hand,” Stevenson says on the website. “I believe that the only answer that will shift our nation is believers coming back to the feet of Jesus, to living out the gospel plainly and blatantly for the world to see. Only by getting back into alignment with the heart of Jesus will our lives then become a projection of the one we’ve encountered in intimacy, and this is how we show the gospel, the good news, to today’s culture.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.