IF YOU GO
What: Siskin StarNight featuring Josh Turner.
When: 6 p.m. Aug. 25 (reservation deadline today).
Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1 Carter Plaza.
The last time Josh Turner was in town, he was headlining a benefit for Ringgold High School's band program. A driving thunderstorm just before showtime turned the venue, Davis Cattle Farm, into a sloppy, multi-acre mud pit. Yet the country singer wouldn't call a rainout.
"It was quite the event," said Turner in a phone interview, chuckling as he recalled that night. "We did everything we could to at least play a little bit of music."
When the multiplatinum artist returns to Chattanooga, the conditions promise to be golden.
Turner is headlining the 50th anniversary StarNight gala, the major fundraiser of Siskin Children's Institute, on Aug. 25 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. (Reservation deadline is today.)
Turner said he does only a handful of benefits each year. Guests attending StarNight's Golden Jubilee have the rare opportunity to hear the singer with one of country music's most distinctive voices in a smaller, more intimate concert setting.
"It's for a good cause," Turner said of his performance. "That always makes you feel good at the end of the night. It's a good thing to do and a lot of fun, too."
Siskin Children's Institute provides early childhood education to children with and without disabilities, who learn together in classrooms.
Turner joins a stellar list of StarNight headliners who have ranged from Tony Bennett and Dinah Shore to Trisha Yearwood and Sugarland.
Jerry Jensen, institute president and chief executive officer, said Turner is known for "his love and appreciation of family and community. It's a perfect fit for us."
Turner is currently riding the success of his new CD, "Punching Bag." The artist wrote eight of its 11 tracks. The album, which shot to No. 1, is still No. 16 after eight weeks on Billboard's Country Albums chart. StarNight fans will be entertained with "Time Is Love," No. 7 on Billboard's Top 20 Country Songs, during his set.
In keeping with the album's boxing theme, Turner said his management searched the Southeast for a gym to be the setting for photos in the liner notes.
They found the look they wanted in Chattanooga at Jabbin' for Jesus, a boxing ring that's home to the Westside Knockouts Boxing Club, a Y-CAP program run by Joe Smith.
"I didn't want a place that was perfect, clean and shiny. I wanted a dingy, gritty kind of place. It (the gym) was perfect in that they were using it as an after-school program to help young people in Chattanooga," said Turner.
"It was not only a cool place to do a photo shoot but a cool place to meet the people, hear their stories and the excitement about what was happening there," he said of his visit.
Laurie Stevens, Siskin communications manager, said $250 all-access tickets remain for the gala as well as Gold and Silver tables of eight ($3,000 and $2,000 respectively.)
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...