Country Music Artist to Put on Benefit Concert for LaFayette High Band

LAFAYETTE, Ga. (WDEF) — He’s written songs for Luke Combs, and Riley Green.

Now country music artist Channing Wilson is putting on a benefit concert this Thursday night, to raise money for the marching band at his alma mater – LaFayette High School.

Wilson may write and play music for a living now, but he used to play football while attending LaFayette High.

He wants to give back to the band that once supported him out on the field.

“I learned that the band didn’t get any kind of public funding for instruments or uniforms or anything,” Wilson said. “And essentially we were relying on spaghetti sales and car washes and different fundraisers to raise money. And I’ve been raising money for other people my whole life, playing music and stuff. So I thought, hmm, I’ll try to, you know, try to put a show together. Maybe I can raise some money for them.”

Band Director Brandon Self says their band is growing, which is a good problem to have, but with more people, it costs more money.

“We had about 45 new members out of the 100 we had in the whole group,” Self said. “We are graduating 11, but we anticipate another 30 to 35, so we notice that the growth is coming. We’re trying to do a ton of fundraisers to try to make sure that every student that comes in has an opportunity in the band.”

And playing in the band isn’t cheap either. Each uniform costs $250.

“Something else that we were worried about with all these students coming in is that we don’t have enough equipment, instruments,” Self said. “We don’t have enough uniforms to support that. So we’re going into this August, this school year, we’re like, we’ve got to think about next year. We’ve got to figure something out. We’ve got to double up on fundraising. How are we going to afford to get these uniforms?”

Wilson says those who attend the benefit concert Thursday night will get their money’s worth. He says to expect some great music from him, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, and Grammy nominated singer-songwriter James Otto.

“Both of those guys, even without me, would be an amazing show,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be like a songwriters in the round setting. We’re kind of like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, where you kind’ve pass a song to each other as you go, and the stories can get really funny and really good. And sometimes we can even jam along with each other since we know each other’s songs. And then we’ve got some local student songwriters that go to LaFayette, they’re going to open the show in the same manner.”

Wilson says it’s important for kids to be involved in music – whether it’s for a future career, or just for fun.

“Well, for me, I couldn’t imagine getting through life without having some sort of music to lean on, even if I didn’t play,” he said. “It’s so important just to have music to help get you through the day sometimes. But somebody has to play it, you know, there has to be someone creating it. And if there’s no funding or encouragement or anything, you know, without people showing up to your shows, you don’t have a job.”

Music is also a way for him to bond with his son Carter, who plays percussion in the band.

“When I’m doing it along with my dad, it just – it makes me happy to see him watching me, and it makes him happy too,” Carter Wilson said.

Not only is band great for playing music, but Self says it creates lifelong friendships and memories.

“They’ll always look back on these moments as the days that they wish they could go back to,” Self said. “I think that’s why it’s important for our students to have the opportunity to be in music and in band, because there’s nothing else like it.”

“Everybody’s always nice to you, and they’re usually supportive, and they usually help you when you need help,” said Wyatt Smith, a freshman band member.

You can buy tickets for Thursday night’s benefit concert here.

If you can’t make it to the show, you can still donate to the band on their website, ramblerband.com.

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