Elvis tribute artist raises money for veterans
For those who enjoyed his show last year, Stephen Freeman's return to Thomasville for the "Christmas with Elvis" series is about enjoying their favorite tribute artist pay homage to a fallen icon.
For Freeman, this year's show is about wounded soldiers. Starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, Freeman will host two shows at T. Austin Finch Auditorium. The primetime event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
As a part of the concert, proceeds from a raffle at both shows will support the Independence Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps injured veterans acquire wheelchairs.
"My father was in Vietnam, all my family comes from a long line of veterans," Freeman said. "I just looked up their information, contacted them and told them what I wanted to do. Within two hours, they had responded and were willing to do what they could to help. I think it's a great organization.
"There are several guys in the Triad who have benefitted through the Independence Fund. With some places, you just don't know where the money goes. That is what stood out in my mind about the Independence Fund. Ninety-nine percent of the money goes to buy the chairs."
Both shows, sponsored by Gary J. Younts Machine Co., Inc. in Thomasville, will feature Freeman, a three-piece vocal ensemble, four-piece band and the Brothers Redeemed Quartet.
When Freeman hosted his homecoming show last year, it excited his closest friends and band members. Michael Hill, who has been Freeman's bass guitarist and photographer since 2003, enjoys watching Freeman regain the excitement of coming home.
"I think this is a very important show for him, to be in his hometown," Hill said. "He really worked hard to get back in this area. This style of music is very rooted in this community, and there's an energy level for him — he's excited, the band's excited. A lot of that is hometown pride."
Freeman, 42, a former Thomasville police officer, was voted in 2010 and 2011 as Elvis Tribute Artist of the Year through a poll conducted by Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis, Tenn. His first official show was held at Finch Auditorium in 2000.
"Thomasville has always been my home," Freeman said. "I can remember when I first started putting out posters in the late 1990s. It definitely makes it special."
For more information, visit Freeman's website at www.christmaswithelvis.com.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.