Alison Krauss / Vector Management Contributed Photo

Nick Wilkinson, executive director of the Tivoli Theatre Foundation, says it has long been the intention of the foundation members to host a special gala to raise awareness about the foundation's mission and how it works.

But they didn't want to throw just any event. They waited until it could be done right, with the right headliner, at the right time.

They found her in bluegrass queen Alison Krauss.

"We decided to take our time, and when Alison said she would help be part of it, we were ecstatic," Wilkinson said in a phone interview.

Just the mention of her name immediately brings to mind her lilting soprano voice singing her No. 1 hit "When You Say Nothing at All." Over three decades, she has released 14 albums: seven with her band Union Station and one of with Robert Plant, among them.

If you go

› What: Inaugural Tivoli Theatre Foundation Gala

› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

› When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18

› Admission: $65, $85, $250 VIP

› More info: 423-757-5580


She's sold more than 12 million records, won 27 Grammys, nine Country Music Association awards, 14 International Bluegrass Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards and two Dove Awards.

She's performed for three presidents, contributed to movie soundtracks (most notably, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?") and has collaborated with a who's who of music artists from Dolly Parton to Phish. She even voiced Bambi's mom in the movie "Bambi II."

Her performance at this first Tivoli Foundation Gala will help fund the work of the foundation. The foundation oversees the preservation of not only the Tivoli, but Memorial Auditorium and its Walker Theatre.

"Since the foundation took control of all three venues, we have invested $4.4 million (in the three venues) and that number grows by the day. These are hundred-year-old venues and there is no shortage of 'opportunites' (aka repairs, upkeep) to be done. Proceeds will go toward ongoing restoration," explains Wilkinson, adding the Tivoli will be 100 years old in 2021.

"Every show we do is, in essence, a fundraiser for the foundation. The community has been very supportive of all our fundraising efforts. Every dollar we make off tickets or concessions goes back into the lights on the marquis, fixing paint and making the Tivoli the Jewel of the South," he says.

"We do have some exciting plans for a future restoration of the Tivoli, which we will probably talk about at the gala," the director teases.

Although Friday night's event was announced as a gala, it's not black-tie, Wilkinson says.

"Whatever you would wear to an Alison Krauss concert, you should wear to this event. We thought through several names of what to call it and decided on gala because most people think of a gala as a way to give back and support a cause. But it is not a black-tie thing. It's a casual, comfortable night to celebrate the Tivoli and the foundation."

Concert-only tickets are $65 and $85. There is a $250 VIP ticket that includes a pre-show reception with hors d'oeuvres by Lee Towery Catering, specialty cocktails, complimentary open bar and live auction.

"We're excited! We've got a world-class night for Chattanooga," Wilkinson says.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.


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