LAFAYETTE, Ga. (WDEF) — He wrote songs for Luke Combs and Riley Green.
Now, country music artist Channing Wilson is hosting a benefit concert this Thursday night, to raise money for his alma mater’s marching band – LaFayette High School.
Wilson can write and play music for a living now, but he played football while attending LaFayette High.
He wants to give back to the group that once supported him on the pitch.
“I learned that the band didn’t receive any kind of public funding for instruments or uniforms or anything,” Wilson said. “And basically we relied on spaghetti sales, car washes, and different fundraisers to raise money. And I’ve been fundraising for other people all my life, playing music and everything. So I thought, hmm, I’ll try to, you know, try to put on a show. Maybe I can raise some money for them.
Group manager Brandon Self says their group is growing, which is a good deal to have, but with more people it costs more.
“We had about 45 new members out of the 100 we had in the whole group,” Self said. “We’re getting 11, but we’re planning another 30-35, so we’re seeing growth coming. We try to do a ton of fundraising to try to make sure every student that comes in has an opportunity in the group.
And playing in the band isn’t cheap either. Each uniform costs $250.
“Another thing that worried us with all these students coming in was that we didn’t have enough equipment, instruments,” Self said. “We don’t have enough uniforms to support this. So we go into this month of August, this school year, we say to ourselves, we have to think about next year. We have to find something. We need to double fundraising. How are we going to afford to get these uniforms? »
Wilson says those who attend the benefit concert on Thursday night will get their money’s worth. He says he expects great music from him, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter James Otto.
“These two guys, even without me, would be an amazing sight,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be like a songwriter in the round setting. We’re kind of like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, where you play a song as you go, and the stories can get really funny and really good. And sometimes we can even jam together since we know each other’s songs. And then we have local student songwriters going to LaFayette, they’re going to open the show the same way.
Wilson says it’s important for kids to get involved in music, whether it’s for a future career or just for fun.
“Well, for me, I couldn’t imagine going through life without having some kind of music to lean on, even if I wasn’t playing,” he said. “It’s so important to have music to get you through the day sometimes. But someone has to play it, you know, there has to be someone creating it. And if there’s no funding or encouragement or whatever, you know, without people showing up on 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 do it with my dad, it’s just – it makes me happy to see him looking at me, and it makes him happy too,” Carter Wilson said.
Not only is the band great for playing music, but Self says it creates lifelong friendships and memories.
“They will always remember those times as days 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 a band, because there’s nothing else like it.”
“Everyone is always nice to you, and they’re usually supportive, and they’re usually helpful when you need help,” said Wyatt Smith, a freshman band member.
You can buy tickets for the benefit concert on Thursday evening here.
If you can’t make it to the concert, you can always donate to the band on their website, ramblerband.com.