American Idol Finalist Will Headline Valley Praise Fest
Of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition
And the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me
So I can be
Filled with you
– Chris Sligh
The preceding is from “Empty Me,” the first single of Christian musician and American Idol finalist, Chris Sligh who will be headlining Saturday’s line-up at this year’s Valley Praise Fest. The event is to be held July 27-29 at the Wetzel County 4-H Campground, located approximately three miles east of New Martinsville on state Route 7.
Best known as the curly mop-headed finalist on the sixth season of American Idol, Sligh was eliminated from the competition on March 28, 2007, finishing in 10th place. Thus began what he called his “15 minutes of fame” that have extended to today.
His first professional album, “Running Back to You”, came out in May 2008 and he toured incessantly, logging 145 shows and an additional 150 appearances that year. In 2009, that pace continued.
All of the hard work paid off as the following year he signed with his dream record label, Word Records, and set about recording a follow-up album, “The Anatomy of Broken”.
“As I finished recording that album, my wife and I found out that we were expecting our first child and in October of that year (Halloween to be exact) we had baby Keira. And I immediately realized I needed to be home more,” said Sligh. “I couldn’t work 300 days a year out on the road with a kid at home. So. . . we prayed about it and after doing Winter Jam and a tour with Big Daddy Weave in Spring of 2011, my wife and I took a worship leading position in Colorado.” He now serves as worship pastor at Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot, Colo, located just north of Boulder.
That heart for worship has also spawned his latest album, “For Our God & King”, which was literally finished days ago. This project, created independently, is available for free download on www.forourgodandking.com. “I just want this to be a resource. This music was written for the Church. I hope it can and will be used,” said Sligh.
No doubt much of the music from that project will be part of his appearance at Valley Praise Fest Saturday evening as he leads those in attendance in worship.
But the festival includes much more than just Sligh. Local recording artist Rob Campbell will kick of Valley Praise Fest festivities on Friday night at 6 p.m. The Gracemen, a southern gospel quartet from Barbousville, W.Va., will perform at 7 p.m., followed by Ivan Parker, at 8 p.m.
Parker was saved at age nine in his daddy’s church in Sanford, N.C., when an evangelist preached a fiery sermon on the rapture of the church and heaven. “I remember that night well,” he said. “I was sitting on the back row with all my friends. When the invitation was given, I couldn’t get to the altar fast enough. My mom and dad had always told me that whenever it came to salvation, I couldn’t get to heaven on their experience – I had to have my own.”
This decision that Parker made at age nine stayed in the forefront of his mind, even though he admits that he made a lot of mistakes along the way. “But I knew Jesus loved me and had His hand on me. I didn’t know what God had planned for my life; I just knew I wanted to sing.”
In June 2003, “It’s True” – the title song on one of Parker’s CDs – climbed to the number two spot on The Singing News top 10 list. This is one of Parker’s favorite songs, because it talks about how loved ones (including his dad) made the crossing. With permission from the writer, Parker rewrote parts of the song to make it express his sentiments.
One of the greatest ministry opportunities to come Parker’s way is being a part of most of the Gaither Homecoming Videos and singing in 70 to 80 Gaither concerts a year, which average around 15,000 attendees each, in addition to his own solo schedule. In all, his calendar shows an average of 200 performances a year.
Parker and his wife Teresa reside in Nashville, Tenn. They own Parker Music Group which not only represents Ivan Parker but Teresa is a booking agent representing several other artists from the Gaither Homecoming Tour. They have two sons, Ryan and Josh.
Performances on Saturday, July 28, include Tonya Collens at 1 p.m.; Joyful Noise at 2 p.m.; Amy Witschey at 3 p.m.; Crossed In at 4 p.m.; 2 Be Determined at 5:30 p.m.; with special guests Jessica McCoy at 6:45 p.m.; followed by Sligh at 8 p.m.
McCoy, a native of West Virginia, has been singing her entire life and seeks to use her God-given gift of music to inspire and encourage others. From an early age she knew she was meant to be a “musicianary” and strives to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ through personal and powerful worship, uplifting original songs, and a heart that’s on fire for God.
She was signed to McLaughlin Music Group International Inc. in January 2010, and is recognized by Contemporary Christian Music Network International and Christian Songwriter Development Network. Currently, her songs are being played on Christian radio stations all across the world.
Valley Praise Fest also will feature other Christian artists that represent genres from contemporary to bluegrass and Christian rock to southern Gospel. “Fun in The Son” activities for kids will include a jump castle, face painting, games and more. The festival will close Sunday at 2 p.m. with services conducted by Rabbi Jason Britt.
Rabbi Britt combines the serious message of the Word of God with humor, to appeal to all generations.
Rev. Dr. David L. Kelly, along with the congregation of Faith Fellowship, welcomes the community to join them in a weekend of fun and fellowship. “Be sure to bring a blanket, lawn chairs, strollers, comfortable shoes, and sunscreen and join in the fun,” Kelly commented.
Concessions will be available throughout the weekend, including food and drinks from Domino’s Pizza.
For additional information, call Faith Fellowship at 304-266-4630 or visit www.valleypraisefest.com.