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Ricky Skaggs Helps Establish Men on Missions with Concert

On April 25, C-N hosted a special performance with Ricky Skaggs. The solo concert, which benefited student scholarships, was held in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church.

More than a half-century ago, Bill Monroe succumbed to crowd pressure in Martha, Kentucky and invited to the stage a local six-year-old. Monroe, the man who is the reason bluegrass music exists, then placed his mandolin around the boy’s neck and adjusted the strap to his frame.

Whereas David was dwarfed by King Saul’s armor, “Little Ricky Skaggs” took the instrument and – in the best sense of the word – tore it up. Within a year’s time, the boy had debuted at the Grand Ole Opry, performed with Flatt & Scruggs and pocketed his first professional paycheck.

Since playing for a legend in 1960, Skaggs has become one.

He helped launch Men on Missions, a new Carson-Newman philanthropic group, on Wednesday, April 25 in the sanctuary of Jefferson City’s First Baptist Church. While the concert was free, attendees were presented an opportunity to support the institution’s scholarship fund through donations.

“We are incredibly grateful to Ricky for such a successful and meaningful evening,” said Carson-Newman Vice President for Advancement Danny Nicholson. “To have the opportunity to hear his music and, on top of that, to hear about his deep faith, was just inspiring.”

From his bluegrass roots, Skaggs turned to country music near the end of the 1970s. Though not yet 30 then, his vast experience made him part of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and, within a very few years, a noted act in his own right. In 1982, he became the then youngest person to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. In the 30 years since, he garnered many accolades including CMA awards, including “Entertainer of the Year” in 1985, 14 Grammy Awards and scores of other honors.

After years on the charts as a country music artist on a secular label, the artist has said he felt a divine leading.

“I had been sensing that the Lord was saying to me, ‘I want you to be where hurting people are, to be where people need to hear of My love,’ And I wanted to conduct business from a Christian perspective,” Skaggs said.

To do that, he started Skaggs Family Records. “We dedicated everything we did to the Lord—we wanted to give Him all the honor and glory” he noted. That meant slicing the number of band members from 15 to eight, eliminating a tractor-trailer and selling a bus.

The change has granted Skaggs the freedom to play benefits, like Carson-Newman’s event next Wednesday.

“We go anywhere that God wants to send us,” said the Kentucky native. He said the bluegrass sound draws all comers, but, “when they get to our show, they hear the Gospel.”

In a conversation with the Wall Street Journal two years ago, Skaggs was clear about his faith.

“I’m mostly known as a secular artist who plays clubs, casinos and beer joints, fairs. We’re out there among the regular people,” he said Jim Fusilli. “But I’m a Christian and I believe the truth of the Bible. I try to live it every day of my life. It’s not something I put on like a suit of clothes.”

For more information on Carson-Newman’s Men on Missions, contact the Advancement Office at 865-471-3459.

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