Lee Greenwood to help Trine celebrate grand opening of T. Furth Center for Performing Arts

ANGOLA, Ind. – Country music star Lee Greenwood will be the highlight when Trine University celebrates the grand opening of the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts.

The award-winning singer will be the first to perform in the T. Furth Center when he stars during the Friday, May 2, evening event.

"Lee Greenwood is our top choice to boost our celebration," said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine president. "I had the opportunity and good fortune to work with Lee on a couple of occasions while in Tennessee and when I reached out to him, he eagerly accepted."

"He's an all-American performer who uses his star power to advance worthy causes and he also devotes time and talent to charitable events and organizations. Such work is valued at Trine and we are honored to have him as our first performer at the T. Furth Center," Brooks said.

"I'm excited to be the act chosen to do it," Greenwood said Thursday morning. "Venues with 500 to 1,000 are pretty cool to play in because in larger venues you don't get a chance to talk to the audience."

Trine's T. Furth Center will have seating for 750 guests. The former Angola Christian Church, built in 1910, is across the street from Trine's main campus.

The $6 million renovation to the T. Furth Center got underway last March. The historic Greek
Revival building will feature a new interior and additions to the west side and north side of the structure, with the main entry being moved to the north. The entry will be a barrier-free, drive-up entrance covered by a portico.

"Generous donors are making it possible to give new life to this venerable structure that will be a cultural asset to the community and Trine," Brooks said. "The project honors Trine's long-standing tradition of music and the history of the church."

Trine credits longtime donors Tomas Furth, Rick L. and Vicki L. James, Cliff and Sig Ryan, and Ralph and Sheri Trine with enabling the university to tackle this renovation and 3,328-square-foot addition.

The finished look of the Ryan Concert Hall, inspired by Wiener Musikverein concert hall in Vienna, will feature a lush look of gold detailing, marble statuary, paintings, chandeliers and balconies. The 750-seat hall will get a new balcony on the east end, and refurbished balconies on the north and south sides. A new stage will anchor the west end.

The concert hall will also have state-of-the-art acoustics, sound and light.

Greenwood is confident the new facility along with his use of in-ear monitors will result in a great show.

"I don't think there are any challenges as far as playing in a smaller venue. In-ear monitors equalize and level out the sound so we don't have to bury the audience in sound. It serves us well to be able to be artists yet we don't have to be too loud," he said.

"If you're a fan, you expect for us to sing the hits that brought us to radio for 30 years, and there are myriad of those," Greenwood said. "I went to see artists before and they didn't do the hits I expected and I was a little disappointed, so we always keep that kind of music in our show. I also add a few tricks that people don't expect or expose a part of talent that people don't know."

"It's a family show, an emotional show and a patriotic show so we always address our country's patriotism town the end of the show. People come to expect that from me; that started several years ago," he said, noting that he first performed "God Bless the USA" in fall 1983.

Greenwood is perhaps best known for his patriotic "God Bless the USA," a song he penned in 1983.

"It keeps having a different kind of life," Greenwood told The Boot (theboot.com), a website that compiles news about country music and singers. "I mean during the Gulf War, it was a song of the war for Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf. After Hurricane Katrina, it was a song for life and hope, and then after 9/11, it was a song of unity and rebuilding. It just makes me really proud that I've done something for the country and for my family. It's my family's heritage."

"God Bless the USA" has been in the top five on the country singles charts three times in 1991, 2001 and 2003, which distinguishes it as being the only song in any music genre to hit that goal.

"I'm a patriot and I love the country. I don't think I've done a show since that -- maybe one or two -- that I have not done 'God Bless the USA.' Along the way, I've added other patriotic songs, some are original, as a way to amplify patriotism and how we love our country," he said.

While he is proud of his career and many accomplishments, Greenwood said he is most proud of being a husband and father. "It's nice to say we've done a lot of things that have been terrific achievements. I've been able to meet presidents and heads of state, enjoy what the military does and all of their war machines, but I think being a husband and father is the thing I admire most." He and his wife, Kimberly, have two sons.

The grand opening featuring Greenwood is scheduled a day before Trine's commencement ceremony. NFL veteran and ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday will deliver the commencement address on Saturday, May 3.