Kingsley event is always ‘can’t miss’

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Parker County has its share of “can’t-miss events” but there is one that is near and dear to my heart - Bob and Nan Kingsley’s Behind the Hits.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have loved listening to Bob Kingsley on weekly country countdowns for years and I am a regular listener of his Country Top 40 on 99.5 The Wolf on Sunday. But that love only grew when I came to the Weatherford Star-Telegram in 2006 and overheard a conversation with my then editor, Terry Evans, who I shared the office with. It seems a caller was looking for some local entertainment information and Terry threw out Bob Kingsley’s name as someone he might could call. My ears perked up and I waited what seemed to be a lifetime to ask if it was, in fact, the same Bob Kingsley I listened to every week. You can just imagine the reaction when I found out it was.

After professing my absolute love for Bob, Terry did what any other editor would do - he got on the phone with Bob’s wife, Nan, shared my admiration and immediately set up a time to for me to meet him. The caveat, of course, was that I had to write a story on the Kingsleys and their cutting horse endeavors. Next thing I remember, I was sitting in a leather couch in Bob’s office at Bluestem Studios surrounded by gold records and signed memorabilia from country music artists young and old. To say I was in awe would be the understatement of the century.

I don’t exactly remember what embarrassing thing I did when we were finally introduced but whatever it was, Bob has never said. The interview lasted about an hour I think but it was what happened after that I will never forget. To help bring context to the story, Bob invited me to his ranch later that evening so I could watch him compete against friends at his cutting horse arena. Yep, I thought, I had died and gone to heaven and just didn’t know it yet.

Fast forward eight years and I can honestly call both Bob and Nan friends I cherish but I will never forget that first meeting. In case you are wondering, that story took me eight hours to write and was one of the longest labors of love I have ever completed. In fact, after it came out in the paper, Bob called my cell to thank me and I nearly gave the poor clerk at Bed, Bath and Beyond heart failure when I squealed after I hung up.

As for the Behind the Hits event, it began 10 years ago and coincided with the creation of the Bluestem Foundation, the Kingsleys’ 501(C)3 which assists citizens in Parker and Tarrant counties with a variety of support services. This year, the event honored Don Allen and Sue Ann Westhoff and all proceeds were donated to charities of their choice. Each has had health challenges.

The format is simple - dinner catered by Jon Bonnell and Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine followed by a private concert given by some of the most prolific songwriters in country music. Many of the writers have had multiple No. 1 hits with artists like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry, to name only a few.

What makes the event special is not that the proceeds benefit various charities - though that is a fantastic reason - it’s that it is intimate and brings as much joy to the performers as it does to the guests attending. This year’s featured songwriters were Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally, who just happens to be a resident of nearby Mineral Wells. The playlist was amazing and the stories behind each of the songs even better. For nearly two and a half hours, no-one cared that a storm was raging outside.

I offer this column as a thank you and as a tribute to the Kingsleys, who have raised more than $550,000 with the Bluestem Foundation. I look forward to that number reaching a million dollars in the near future but as country music artist Ronnie Millsap once sang, when it comes to this year, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

Melissa Winn, 817-594-9902, Ext. 104 Twitter: @scoopmdw3701

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