Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor

Country music superstar Sara Evans all be the headliner for the 36th The Annual Cystic Fibrosis Concert at the West Plains Civic Center, on March 16.

This event began its deep roots in the community in 1988 by Julie Scheldon, a friend of Jessica Frazier’s parents Rick and Louis Frazier,  who attended church with them. Jessica, who has had Cystic Fibrosis since she was a child and been a huge part of the event each year also established the popular Jessica’s Kids. This ever growing group of child volunteers for the event who sing and provide an opening act. They are each required to sell 10 tickets to the concert each year and are included in the opening performance. 

Jessica’s Kids is a very important and emotional part of the event each year. The performers are all volunteers, many who are the children and grandchildren of those who first began volunteering for the event. Local children who came get to be part of the fundraiser and get to help to find a cure and learn about CF under the direction of Diane Reed of West Plains and her two daughters and nieces. Jessica said, “When I couldn’t walk and was ill in middle school, I was pushed in a wheel barrow to perform. They do all the music and take the stage. Anyone’s child is welcome to be a part of this. It is a great opportunity for them to help others facing CF and learn about it. There are several other small children ranging from 1-10 living in the area who have CF.” Several great entertainers have graced the stage for the event with the first being a group from Branson.

Besides Sara Evans, the night is chock full of fun events and is made possible by the generosity of individuals and businesses within the community. A live auction will begin at with lots of great items up for bid at 6:45 p.m. 

Doors open at 5 p.m. and attendees will be met with 12 tables laden with silent auction items. There will also be a raffle for a gun provided by 4730 Lumber Company. Among the auction items is a very attractive hand made oak chicken coop donated by Leland Tackett. A Fire pit provided by Newbery Sales, Mike Newberry and Robert Burtrum will undoubtedly be another of the many sought after items of the night. 

All proceeds from this event will benefit the University of Missouri – Columbia for research to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Jessica explained the funds all remain local and through the concert donations to the University, they have been responsible for helping fund two major breakthroughs in Cystic Fibrosis Research. These include research that led to the development of the drug pulmozyme in the 1990s. This medication that makes mucus thinner and looser so the patient is able to more easily an effectively clear their lungs. They also are responsible for mandating the screening of newborn infants for CF, to begin an immediate care if diagnosed.  

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that causes the body to produce thick mucus that clogs organs like the pancreas, lungs, and intestines. This can cause malnutrition, breathing problems, chronic lung disease, and frequent respiratory infections.

Jessica is now 43 and when she was initially diagnosed, was supposed to only live to be 16 -20 years. Through research and advancements people with CF are now able to live a functional life well into their 60s or beyond with much less, if any illness. 

The multi talented Evans is an actress, record producer, country music singer and songwriter and author. She was born in Booneville, Mo. and raised in rural New Franklin, Mo. and grew up poor. She performed with her family band, The Evans Family Band locally.  Evans started performing lead vocals in the band when she was six years old. She later learned to perform guitar, mandolin, and drums. 

Multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans has also garnered such honors as ACM’s Female Vocalist of the Year, CMA’s Video of the Year, named one of People Magazine’s “”50 Most Beautiful People,”” and the first country star to compete in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. 

Evans had five songs reach the number one spot on the Billboard country songs chart and has sold over six million albums.[3] Nine additional singles have reached the top ten of the Billboard country chart, including “I Could Not Ask for More”, “I Keep Looking”, and “Cheatin’”. Among her top 20 charting singles are “Saints & Angels”, “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus”, and “As If”.[4] She has won accolades from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. She has also been nominated for several more accolades from both associations, including Female Vocalist of the Year and Single of the Year.

Evans reached her peak success in the 2000s with the albums Born to Fly (2000), Restless (2003) and Real Fine Place (2005). The discs sold over one million copies each and included the number one country singles “Born to Fly”, “Suds in the Bucket” and “A Real Fine Place to Start”. She re-launched her career in 2011 with her sixth studio album Stronger. It was supported by the two-week number one single “A Little Bit Stronger”. After the release of Slow Me Down (2014), Evans left RCA and formed her own record label. In 2017, she released her first album through the label, Words.

Evans is also a very popular author with several popular books and a series of books.

Tickets for this event are completely sold out, but anyone wishing to make a donation to the Cystic Fibrose fundraiser may do so via their Facebook page. Doors open at 5 p.m. 

Come out and support local research into Cystic Fibrosis and enjoy a wonderful night of music and on March 16 at the West Plains Civic Center.