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ENCORE Fundraiser To 'Light Up The Stage'

April 4, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Amy Barnett

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SHSU alumnus Allen Shamblin, who co-wrote Miranda Lambert's hit "The House That Built Me," will return to campus on April 30 with friends Mark Wills and Mike Reid to perform as part of the ENCORE event that will raise money for performing arts students. —Photo by Brian Blalock

Sam Houston State University organizers are promising an evening of “unplugged entertainment with an intimate acoustic feel” when accomplished alumni and friends return to campus on April 30 for “ENCORE: See Sam Houston Light Up the Stage.”

The show will bring back successful Sam Houston graduates to share the stage with current students as they put SHSU’s performing arts programs in the spotlight, on center stage, in the 800-seat concert hall of the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center, according to Dana Nicolay, dance professor and interim dean of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communications.

Among the returning alumni are Eboni Adams, a 1999 dance graduate, who is now making a name for herself as a choreographer after dancing in musical productions for Celine Dion and Tony Bennett; and award-winning composer and producer Gary Powell, a 1974 music graduate with more than 125 musical productions, many from well-loved Disney blockbusters.

“We feel so fortunate to have so many alumni willing to come back and help us,” Nicolay said. “It is very exciting.”

Also on the lineup is Allen Shamblin, a business administration graduate and award-winning songwriter, whose song “The House That Built Me,” recently won the Country Music Association’s song of the year.

The song also has won Miranda Lambert, who performs it, her first Grammy award for “Best Female Country Vocal Performance,” and on April 3 she was recognized by the Academy of Country Music with “Single Record of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” and “Video of the Year” awards, all for “The House That Built Me.”

“That night was surreal,” Shamblin said about the night he and co-writer Tom Douglas won the CMA award. “As a songwriter we spend so much time hoping something we write will connect with someone, but when your peers recognize your work, that’s another blessing.”

Shamblin said any time you’ve been blessed, you should give back.

“I was at Sam Houston for several years and grew to love Huntsville. My time there was very important to me,” said Shamblin. “It’s my time to give back and I’m thankful I can do that and share my successes with Sam Houston. And if it helps with their Performing Arts, it makes me that much happier.”

Shamblin will not be returning to Huntsville alone. When told he could fill his time in ENCORE any way he chose, he called on buddies Mark Wills and Mike Reid, who have each recorded several songs that have reached No. 1 on the country music charts. The trio will perform songs separately and together as they fill one set of the show.

“The show will transition from people to people who are going to not only perform but share stories of what they’ve been doing since the time they graduated from Sam,” said Larry Smiglewski, assistant professor of theatre and director of ENCORE.

Scotty Cherryholmes, a graduate of the theatre department and a 2010 recipient of the SHSU theatre alumni award, will emcee the show, which is expected to last about two hours with an intermission.

“Just when you think the show is over, he’ll bring out another act,” said Smiglewski. “It really will be a celebration of our alumni.

“I think when we are working and moving forward, we forget how successful some of our students are,” he said. “And now with our new building we can celebrate and allow alumni to share the stage with our current students.”

As many as 20 current students who are studying music, dance or theater will participate in the show as well, showcasing all three of the performing arts disciplines.

“ENCORE is going to be a great show,” Nicolay said. “The acoustics in the concert hall are world class. You will not find acoustics like we have here any place in Houston.”

While Nicolay and Smiglewski are confident ENCORE will help spotlight the new state-of-the-art facilities at Sam Houston and draw patrons to future shows, they hope the alumni who bring ENCORE to life will draw talented students to the university as well.

“I think the thought of a career in the arts can be very daunting for some students. To see the success of our alumni I think is going to be an exciting moment for any young artist and their parents. You don’t have to be at Juilliard to have a successful career,” said Smiglewski. “Proof is in our alumni.”

The new performing arts venue has hosted several major performances in its first season that have been “well attended,” but the new College of Fine Arts and Mass Communications is hoping ENCORE packs a full house, as the event will raise money to help fund various projects within the new college and provide scholarships to talented students, Nicolay said.

One night of fundraising, however, is not the only purpose of the event, according to Nicolay. He hopes Sam Houston will continue reaping the benefits of ENCORE in the future.

“It’s been my opinion that our fine arts are the best kept secret in the region,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get the name of fine arts at Sam Houston spread beyond Huntsville. If we bring people in and show them what Sam Houston has to offer in the arts programs, people are going to want to come back and see more and hopefully become patrons of the programs.”

Tickets are $75 and can be reserved by calling the PAC Box Office at 936.294.2339 or e-mailing encore@shsu.edu.

 

 

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