When renowned singer/songwriter Amos Lee performs Dec. 2 at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts, it will be more than a concert.
"The goal is to bring in acts like this to give our students an opportunity they wouldn't normally have to interact with, to learn from, and to have the experience of their lives," said Jeanne Cassidy, sales and marketing coordinator for the MISD Center for the Performing Arts.
"This is much more than just a concert."
Cassidy said the experience began with Kirk Franklin last year. She said he enjoyed his time working with students from the high schools in Mansfield that he asked to come back every year. However, for variety's sake, Lee was brought in this year.
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"Our first question to artists is 'Will you work with kids?' If they say no, we move on," Cassidy said. "The cool thing about Amos Lee is he used to a teacher."
Indeed, Lee, after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English, worked as a teacher and bartender while trying to get his music career going. He has now recorded five albums has toured as an opening act for Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard, Van Morrison, John Prine, Dave Matthews Band, Adele, the Zac Brown Band, Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, and David Gray.
Lee's music has appeared on the soundtracks of numerous TV shows and movies. He has performed on several late night TV shows and at a voter registration rally for President Barack Obama.
Students from the five choirs in the MISD high schools will perform as the opening act. They will then return to the stage and join Lee for the finale.
"He's also going to let the students see his sound check, which is something no artist ever does," Cassidy said. "They'll see how he works with other members of the band, how the stage is set up. It's a definite learning experience."
Cassidy said the idea to bring big-name acts to the MISD Center for the Performing Arts was the brainchild of Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas.
"Our superintendent is a big music buff. He wanted our students to be exposed to professional touring acts and audiences," she said. "It all just ties together for entertainment and experience.
"Even seeing ballet for the first time can change a life of a youngster. They see it and think, 'That could be me up there.'"
Other acts that have graced the stage at the MISD Center for the Performing Arts have included Texas Ballet Theater, Symphony Arlington, Fort Worth Opera, and the Dallas Opera. Cassidy said they are looking at expanding to two big-name acts each year beginning in 2018.
"It does take quite a bit of research, but we would like to have two concerts a year. It's not that easy to find an artist that will find the time to come in and work with kids," she said. "But we are looking at someone for the spring.
"We take fine arts very seriously. We believe it instills a creativity in our students, and it ties in academically."
Cassidy said the concerts are not only good for Mansfield and its students, but they bring a cultural experience to all of North Texas. They are doing a media blast throughout the Metroplex for this reason.
"Amos Lee's concerts sell out everywhere," she said, adding the facility has about 4,000 seating capacity with, "There's not a bad seat in the house."
Tickets for the concert start at $35 and range to $75. For more information, contact 817-299-1230.