Three of Contemporary Christian Music’s legendary artists—Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman and Mac Powell—are joining forces for an upcoming 10-city drive-in theater tour set to launch Thursday, July 16 at Stardust Drive-In Theatre in Watertown, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville.
“We are three friends who are excited to play music together again,” Chapman tells MusicRow.
The tour is the latest installment of a series of Awakening Events-produced drive-in theater tours, following previously-announced tours from Newsboys, United and TobyMac. The tour comes as drive-in theaters across the country have become concert hotspots, a way for artists to continue to perform for fans while helping to make sure social distancing guidelines are observed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keith Urban recently performed a private concert at Watertown’s Stardust Drive-In Theatre to honor Vanderbilt medical professionals. Eli Young Band will be among the performers at a four-night, drive-in “Concert in Your Car” series, which launches today in Arlington, Texas. Smith recently performed a drive-in show at Franklin, Tennessee’s Williamson County Ag Expo Center, welcoming an estimated 5,000 fans. Awakening Event’s Drive-In Theater tours are among the first full-fledged multi-city tours to have happened during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“These kinds of tours have never been done before and I love a great adventure, no pun intended,” Smith told MusicRow.
Chapman and Third Day most recently toured together in 2016 as part of the SCC3D tour, while Chapman and Smith co-headlined the United Tour in 2009. Collectively, Chapman, Powell and Smith have earned 113 No. 1 hits, sold 35 million albums, garnered 12 Grammy Awards and 128 Dove Awards.
Instead of performing separate individual sets, the three artists will perform together as one unit, welcoming a handful of musicians to help round out the band. Among those musicians is bass player Brent Milligan, who has played with both Chapman and Smith, and has produced some of Chapman’s albums.
Chapman says he jumped at the chance to play music for live audiences again, and was inspired by a recent experience at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
“I went to the Ryman to do a live recording of a song I’ve written in the middle of all this called, ‘Together We’ll Get Through This.’ It was just me and two people from the crew there and a piano. I walked into the dressing room that has the picture of Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff. I walked in and I literally broke down, because it was one of those first moments where the reality set it that these places are made for relationships and for music to bring us together and help remind us that we are not alone. I felt like the whole auditorium was weeping, like ‘Where are the people?’ So when I got the call to do this, I loved the idea that I get to bring people together, and to hang with two of my best buddies and best people in business.”
They also don’t rule out the possibility that the tour could result in new music.
“You never know,” Smith says.
“Anytime you get artists on the road and on stage, you never know what can happen. This year has been unprecedented, so we have a lot to write about. I wouldn’t be surprised if we jumpstart something and played it before the end of the tour,” Chapman added.
Ultimately, the tour—like many of the drive-in theater shows popping up around the country—is a testament to artists who want to find any way possible to bring music, hope and inspiration to fans.
“We just want people to be encouraged to hang in there,” Powell tells MusicRow. “All of us have a new reality, at least for right now. For us to be able to come together and make music, I know every time I’m around these guys and the band, I’m encouraged, so we want to do that for each other and in turn cast that out to the audience, and encourage people to stay strong.”
“To have these influential solo artists come together for this concept, to see them performing in collaboration together on one stage, it’s truly a monumental occasion,” said Dan Fife, President and Founder of Awakening Events.
Tickets will be available beginning Friday, June 5 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Tickets will be sold by the car load, with up to six people per car.
As with previous Awakening Events-produced drive-in theater shows, the events will comply with all local COVID-19 guidelines. As each carload will be appropriately spaced apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines, attendees are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
“We’re excited that we’ve developed a way for our fans to safely come together and enjoy live music again. In the climate of today we need more positivity in the world, and we take great pride in being able to offer some of that positivity safely,” said Curtis Pinkerton, director of Marketing for Awakening Events.
The Drive-In Theater Tour, supported by K-LOVE, Air1 Radio, Food for the Hungry, and Altrua HealthShare is exclusively produced by Awakening Events. For information, visit awakeningevents.com.
Thu, Jul 16 – Stardust Drive-in Theatre – Watertown, TN
Fri, Jul 17 – Swingin’ Midway Drive-in – Athens, TN
Sun, Jul 19 – Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre – Henderson, NC
Mon, Jul 20 – Goochland Drive-In Theater – Hadensville, VA
Tue, Jul 21 – The Family Drive in Theatre – Stephens City, VA
Fri, Jul 24 – Birdsong Drive-in – Camden, TN
Sat, Jul 25 – Iuka Drive-in – Iuka, MS
Sun, Jul 26 – Pink Cadillac Drive-in – Centerville, TN
Tue, Jul 28 – Parkway Drive-in – Maryville, TN
Wed, Jul 29 – Montana Drive-in Theater – Estill Springs, TN
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