Hundreds of fans, family members and friends once again showed their support for locally grown country music star Jake Owen at his 16th annual Jake Owen Benefit Foundation concert on Dec. 9 at the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center.
The event began in the VIP tent, sponsored by Dale Sorensen Real Estate, where people mingled with music moguls and golf professionals. At the pre-show cocktail hour there were lots of hugs, as Owen’s hometown friends caught up with the star, who is in town for a few weeks’ break from his home in Nashville.
“I have so much love for Vero and all you people here to support my dad Steve and the foundation’s work with various nonprofit organizations, including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,” said Owen. “It is so important to my family, the band, everyone here to help youth organizations in our community. I am so honored that people come to hear us play and help others in return.”
Owen was joined on stage by his band, including a full horn section, along with other familiar faces that included Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, Scotty Emerick, Jimmy Ritchie and James Slater. Each sang some of their well-known favorites as well as accompanied Owen on his hits.
“It’s always great when Jake and I can jam together,” said Emerick. The two were supposed to share the stage at the Beach Town Music Festival back in October but it was postponed because of weather. They are booked for the rescheduled event in December 2017.
Two smaller people stole the show: J.D. Sorensen and Pearl Owen, sitting on bar stools, performed their own rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The children also joined the crowd, who were dancing in their rows and aisles for the rest of the concert.
“This couldn’t be any better right now,” said proud papa Dale Sorensen Jr., watching his son sing along with his pal Pearl, led by best friends Owen and Emerick on stage.
Well known for his high-energy performances and laid-back style, Owen has also gained some renown for his golf swing. The day after the concert, he would meet up with the No. 1 PGA Player in the world, Jason Day, for a Pro-Am tournament to further support the foundation.
Owen has always teamed with up other philanthropic heroes, including Mardy Fish of the tennis world. Answering Owen’s call this year was Day, who grew up in Vero Beach and has become the host of the Hale Groves Indian River Grapefruit Pro-Am.
“It’s really cool to have the No. 1-ranked player in Vero right now,” Owen said. “We’ve got men in their 50s and 60s here acting like kids because they’re so excited.”
This past year, the Jake Owen Foundation was named the beneficiary of the annual Vero Beach Country Club’s pro-am tournament, the Hale Groves Indian River Grapefruit Pro-Am Invitational, which is entering its 71st year.
Participants in the tournament include the members of the Vero Beach Country Club, local business leaders, golf professionals and PGA players.
Owen, an avid golfer with a 2 handicap, couldn’t provide for Day and wife Ellie the great Florida weather they were hoping for, but it was still better than the Ohio chill they left behind to enjoy Owen’s concert and the Pro-Am golf tournament.
“It’s really nice to be home for the holidays and share all of the fun of the benefit concert, golf, family and friends,” he said.
The 2016 Jake Owen Foundation Benefit Concert continues the successful history of increasing awareness and raising revenues for the foundation’s mission to assist youth nationwide through St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and in Indian River County through the Boys & Girls Club of Indian River County, Hibiscus Children’s Center, Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation and other local charities.
The Jake Owen Foundation has raised $1.25 million through the foundation’s benefit concerts and Mardy’s Tennis & Jake’s Music Fest.
More than 80 percent of the funds raised by the foundation have remained in Indian River County. Other local charities that have benefited include the Youth Guidance Donation Fund of Indian River County Inc., Indian River Golf Foundation, Scholarship Foundation of Indian River County, Education Foundation of Indian River County Inc., Autism Speaks, Florida Institute of Technology’s Scott Center for Autism Treatment and the Riverside Theatre.
For further information about the Jake Owen Foundation Benefit Concert, call C&H Events at 561-394-9190.