JUNE 21, 2012 10:15 a.m. (2)
Getting Darryl Worley to come to Greenville to headline the second annual Nashville Connection Heroes Salute seemed like an obvious idea to Joan Betros.
Betros, executive producer and director of this four-day series of events at various venues in Greenville, first met the country star on a USO tour while her husband was stationed in Iraq with the Army Reserve.
“That was right after he had done ‘Have You Forgotten,’” Betros remembered. “And, of course, that song said it all as far as our nation was concerned after 9/11.”
“Have You Forgotten,” Worley’s biggest hit, topped Billboard’s country charts for seven weeks in 2003. Its chorus begins: “Have you forgotten how it felt that day/To see your homeland under fire, and her people blown away?”
“When he sang that song, he brought the house down,” Betros said. “And after that, I always kept Darryl in my mind.”
Worley will perform at the Nashville Connection Heroes Salute Gala at the TD Convention Center on Saturday, June 30, at the end of four days of activities for musicians and music lovers, with proceeds going to groups supporting veterans and their families.
The event evolved from a show called “The Nashville Connection,” which Betros produced for a television station in Fairfax, Va., years ago. The show brought aspiring singers and songwriters in the Fairfax area together with pros from Nashville, Tenn., to learn about the music industry.
Betros said when the show ended, a friend convinced her to broaden the idea into a multi-day festival to include “music, art, entertainment, patriotism – the best mix in America. And that’s exactly what I did. We just kind of pulled together the different widgets to make that vision come true.”
Last year’s Nashville Connection “was small, but it was mighty,” Betros said. “We definitely took it up another level this year.”
The four days of events begin on Wednesday, June 27, as an escort led by motorcyclists from the Patriot Guards and Rolling Thunder brings the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall to the grounds of the convention center, with a dedication ceremony at 2:30 p.m. The wall, which will remain until July 1, is a 252.4-foot-long replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., bearing the same names.
Also on June 27, “Rockin’ the Wall,” a documentary about rock music’s role in bringing down the Iron Curtain, will screen at Camelot Cinemas at McAlister Square. Another documentary, “Into Harm’s Way: The Story of the West Point Class of 1967,” will be shown there June 28.
A day of workshops for musicians on June 28 harks back to the Nashville Connection’s beginnings, allowing singers, songwriters and bands to learn from and network with vocal coaches, songwriters, image consultants and entertainment law experts.
“It’s going to be an incredible leg up in the music business, to meet this caliber of people,” said Betros.
Bands will compete on Friday, June 29, at the Greenville Marriott on Parkway East for the opening slot at the gala concert on Saturday. Wildcard slots in the band competition will be determined the night before, at an open-mike event at the Handlebar on Stone Avenue, and at battle-of-the-band competitions at The Channel and Wild Wings Café downtown.
The gala concert Saturday night will be preceded by a reception and live and silent auctions at 6:30 p.m. Along with Worley and the winner of the band competition, singer/songwriter Mike Corrado, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marines, will perform.
And, of course, there’s Martha Reeves, whose string of Motown hits with the Vandellas in the ‘60s includes “Dancing in the Streets,” “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Jimmy Mack” and “Nowhere to Run.”
Although Reeves has no obvious Nashville connection, Betros said that this year’s focus on Vietnam veterans prompted the soul diva’s inclusion. “We took a poll, and everybody came up with two or three names, but Martha was at the top of that,” she said. “Especially for the Vietnam veterans.”
This year’s Nashville Connection Heroes Salute will benefit the Gold Star Moms, the Vietnam Veterans of America and Honor Flight Upstate. Funds will also go to Not Alone, a Nashville group that helps soldiers and families affected by post-traumatic stress disorder; and Welcome Home, a transitional home for displaced veterans in Spartanburg County.
FUTURE (Families United Toward Universal Respect), a nonprofit founded by Betros and her husband Fareed, now retired from the reserves, will also benefit. Through FUTURE, Betros organized the Hugs for Healing program, which in 2010 flew a group of Gold Star Moms to Iraq to meet with Iraqi women.
For tickets or more information, visit www.thenashvilleconnection.com.
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