In this world there are those who act and those who are acted upon. To act is to do something productive with your life. These kinds of people have goals and vision. They lead, guide, and inspire others to act for themselves. People acted upon usually follow the ways of the world and probably feel empty inside. During last evening’s priceless concert event those who act surrounded me.
Photo: An empty Abravanel Hall during set up hours
This was my first public concert since my heart transplant five months ago, and I believe for almost two years.
It was an overwhelming and emotional experience for me. To be backstage and walk out onto a beautifully lit stage with my full ensemble while 2700 people stood to applaud was overwhelming.
The sold out crowd, which consisted of those in my community and folks who flew in from all over the nation, were not applauding me... They were applauding God and what he has done through a team of gifted medical professionals by preserving my life.
Photo: My wife Lynnette helping out daughter Eden get ready for the show
What affected me so deeply was knowing how many selfless people came together to successfully put on an event of this magnitude in less than 5 months.
From my close friend and show producer Jeremy Baron to my sister Carol Burgoyne who was our auction chairperson, these people helped me achieve a goal of bringing awareness to congenital heart disease and begin raising money to provide for my foundation, which is fueling an annual scholarship for those affected by the chronic illness.
A few days after my transplant with a dozen tubes running in and out of my body Jeremy visited me in the pediatric intensive care and suggested we do a celebrate life concert. He had a vision and I said, “Run with it.” He booked the finest venue in our Salt Lake valley and began contacting a talented stage crew from Cole Adams, who designed our lighting, Will Davies who ran the video, Joe Anderson who provided our sound, to Robin Saville of brideaccess.com who filmed the show. We also recorded the concert with the help of Rob Duffin and Giles Reaves from Annex Studios.
While Jeremy was prepping the production, my sister Carol Burgoyne headed the auction and gathered together a wonderful committee. Each member worked very hard to gather items for the auction and as word spread various businesses donated items to help us raise the money for our foundation.
My “Living for Eden” album producer Ryan Tilby began gathering a band together while Steve Nelson arranged strings for the show. All eleven musicians were a joy to work with and we joked that fitting them into my home to rehearse, with all of the gear involved, was truly like fitting a bunch of clowns into a car.
Photo: The Lobby
So much was orchestrated behind the scenes. When the day finally arrived I was nervous and overwhelmed by all that was involved.
The morning of the show I was dumbfounded to find Mike Willmore and his two boys Andrew & Joey, who spent the past Summer mowing my lawn, working once more together to help load in and set up all of the gear. In addition, my brother David and Craig were up early helping. They’ve always worked very hard and are extremely successful in their own lives.
Needless to say, the performance was exciting. I had a lot of fun. I hope everyone had a wonderful time and preserved a memory in their heart.
After I played my last tune, "Gracie’s Theme” my emotions ran sky high when my daughter Eden ran out to me followed by my beautiful wife. It was a priceless moment words can’t describe.
During the show another miracle occurred. It was a quiet miracle and a gift from our loving God. While performing my tune Sweet Escape I finally experienced some closure with the death of my brother Brian. Behind me on the screen was real footage of Brian’s visit to Peru with Anna on their honeymoon. The video ends with his infectious smile while he shuts off his camcorder. Later, after the show had ended and people flooded the backstage, I saw his beautiful widow Anna smiling and in that moment my overwhelming grief left me.
As the crowd emptied the hall, I was fortunate to interact with several wonderful people from all over the country backstage.
Photo: A Sold Out crowd
A touching moment for me came when I met several families who've been deeply affected this past year by congenital heart disease. From the families who've lost children to an individual who has survived CHD and has a child with a tumor. I was speechless for most of the interaction because I don't know how to help or what to say to alleviate their challenges. Needless, to say I was deeply affected by meeting such incredible souls. And because of the contributions of so many we will be able to send a modest financial donation to a several families.
(And a reminder the scholarship fund for those affected by CHD has an extended deadline to May 3rd - We'll announce the recipient on this blog).
I can’t express my gratitude for a priceless evening. I remember many years ago playing in the Roof Restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Building in downtown Salt Lake City. From my piano I could see Abravanel Hall and quietly dream that someday I would perform there. Last night, was someday!
To see the beautiful photography work of Dustin Bess, including more images from the concert visit his website: http://www.dustinbess.com