After building a close-knit relationship with Oklahoma Christian University, singer/songwriter Ben Rector decided to use the Thelma Gaylord Forum as the venue for his Oklahoma City concert.
Rector’s ‘The Biggest Tour I Have Done So Far Tour’ includes 20 stops across the United States, one of which is on Oklahoma Christian’s campus.
Rector released his most recent album, ‘Brand New’ on Aug. 28, 2015, which happened to fall during the freshman orientation program, Earn Your Wings, on the Oklahoma Christian campus.
Kirby Killen, a freshman counselor for Oklahoma Christian at that time, said a year ago the Earn Your Wings staff decided to have an album release party in Judd Theater.
According to Killen, with a couple hundred people present for the album release, those in attendance decided to excessively tweet Rector about the album release party they were having during the orientation. Rector responded to a student in the crowd via Twitter asking to be Skyped into the event.
“We were all down at the bottom of the screen, in Judd, scrambling around trying to have someone remember their Skype password,” Killen said. “All of us hadn’t used our Skypes in forever but we eventually got him [Ben Rector] up on the screen. He told us how cool it was that we were having this album release party and that it was an honor.”
Sophomore Rachel Parrett said she enjoyed getting to see Ben in his home environment, alongside his wife Hillary, taking the time to talk to his fans at Oklahoma Christian.
Braeden Fair, student director for Earn Your Wings 2015 now Freshmen Counselor, grabbed the microphone and explained the Earn Your Wings program to Rector. He also explained to Rector that the freshmen raised 600 dollars for the Havens, an orphanage in Zambia.
Rector then promised to match the amount of money raised.
“Ben’s promise to match the money given to the Havens really shows that he is more than a musician,” Parrett said. “It shows he has a caring heart.”
His donations enabled the missionaries at the Havens to buy solar panels to supply electricity for their operation.
“I have seen Ben in concert around six or seven times now but I am always excited to see him,” Parrett said. “He’s always a very entertaining guy. He’ll talk in between songs and just makes it an enjoyable show to watch each time.”
Tonight as students and faculty fill the Thelma Gaylord Forum for the concert, Oklahoma Christian Professor of Music Heath Jones will join Rector onstage with his alto saxophone.
“I knew there was one song that he [Ben Rector] had a saxophone on,” Jones said. “So I learned the solo for it and sent a video to him. Kerri Cunningham has been in contact with Ben’s manager so they watched the video and decided to let me play, which is exciting because I like Ben’s music a lot.”
Jones said he plays professionally in Oklahoma City with a variety of road show acts that come to town.
“I usually play alongside music acts such as the Temptations and the Four Tops with my fellow Professor of Music Dr. John Fletcher, but I really enjoy having the opportunity to play with singer/songwriters like Ben,” Jones said. “I will be playing alto saxophone despite the beginning of ‘Let the Good Time Roll’ by Ben actually having a baritone saxophone used,” Jones said. “I was thinking if I have time between now and then I might be able to learn that part and take both of my horns to use in the concert.”
The Tulsa-native will perform in the Thelma Gaylord Forum Friday, Oct. 7. The concert begins at 7 p.m. with gates opening at 6 p.m. and an opening act by singer/songwriter Jacob Whitesides.
Tickets for the event are $25 and available for purchase.