June 22, 7:30 p.m.; Pre-Show, 6 p.m.
Tickets: $39, $45
The song has carried its creator all over the world, from New York, to England, and all the way to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. We hear its tune and immediately, some part of the chorus comes to our lips “The day the music died” resonates with so many music lovers that folk singer/songwriter Don McLean’s entire body of work is sometimes overshadowed by his hit, “American Pie.”
With student riots going on outside the studio door there in Berkeley, Calif., McLean recorded his first album, “Tapestry,” in 1969. He’d been singing and touring for several years at that point. But his career trajectory changed drastically just two years later, with the 1971 release of his album “American Pie.” In 2003, the single of the same name was placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and McLean followed suit the next year, with his 2004 induction into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Since “American Pie,” he has recorded more than 20 studio albums, with the most recent one releasing in 2009.
The Heart Behind
Featuring Kim Carnes, John Ford Coley, Gene Cotton, Lenny LeBlanc, with special guest Greg Barnhill
July 16, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $29, $35
Showcasing some of the world’s best singers and songwriters, “The Heart Behind the Music” tour offers a chance to hear talented musicians talk about the meaning behind their hit songs while also treating ticket holders to outstanding performances. The tour’s Meridian stop includes Kim Carnes, who won a Grammy in the 1980s for singing “Bette Davis Eyes.” She has also written numerous hits for Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers and many other well-known singers.
Joining Carnes is John Ford Coley, half the Grammy-nominated duo England Dan & John Ford Coley and best known for the hit “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”
The concert also highlights Gene Cotton, who has 15 albums to his credit and counts “Before My Heart Finds Out” and “Like a Sunday in Salem” among his top-rated singles.
Versatile pop and country songwriter Lenny LeBlanc joins the group as well, known for his 1970s hit ballad, “Falling.” Since a dramatic religious conversion, LeBlanc has become a popular Christian artist, his credits including “Above All” and “There Is None Like You.”
Special guest Greg Barnhill is also featured during the Meridian show. A distant relative of Mississippi’s “Singing Brakeman” Jimmie Rodgers, Barnhill has penned such hits as “House of Love” for Amy Grant and Vince Gill as well as “Walkaway Joe,” a duet by Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley. The Emmy nominee can also be heard on the recordings of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Lee Ann Womack.