Chris Stapleton, along with Ram Trucks and ACM Lifting Lives (the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music), returned home to his former high school late last week, for a two-day whirlwind trip that saw the surprise delivery of much needed band instruments, two free concerts and the unveiling of a Ram Nation volunteer constructed outdoor stage.
The first day began with an early morning visit from Ram Nation volunteers (a grassroots team of Ram truck owners) who unpacked $57,000 worth of band instruments from two trucks, including sousaphones, trumpets, clarinets, tubas and flutes, donated by Lifting Lives via its partnership with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. Once the instruments were unloaded and set-up, the schools music teacher was walked into the classroom, followed by sixteen students, who were caught by surprise. Amid tears of joy, Stapleton entered the room and met with the students, who had already broken open the instruments and began to play.
“A lot of the instruments that we have are broken or put together by duct tape,” said Martina Lutz, Director Johnson Central High School music program. “It’s hard to make a really good sound on your tuba, when your tuba has air leaks.
I would’ve been blessed for just one tuba, but this…this is amazing.”
“While the story of Chris Stapleton may not be widely known, it’s one of pride, dedication and perseverance, all values important to our Ram truck owners,” said Marissa Hunter, Director of Brand Advertising, FCA US. “It was a great opportunity and honor for us to go back to Paintsville with Chris to document his return to the place that built his character and work-ethic. In addition to the spot airing during Sunday’s ACM Awards show, Ram will be creating videos from this experience to show millions of people the very special town and moments that made Chris the man he is today.”
The second day on the Johnson Central High School campus brought a private, mid-afternoon concert for the students and teachers, the dedication of The Golden Eagle Stage Powered By Ram Trucks, an outdoor stage built by students from the Johnson Central High School carpentry program and Ram Nation volunteers as well as a sold-out, free ‘Ram Trucks Hometown Concert’ for the Paintsville community.
“Chris’ visit isn’t something that anyone here, not the kids, nor the teachers or community, will ever forget,” said Russell Halsey, Principal Johnson Central High School. “His hard work is an inspiration to us all and the generosity of Ram, Lifting Lives, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, and all the volunteers that worked so hard during the two days, was truly overwhelming. It left us all with full hearts.”
The Ram Truck brand sponsored the Paintsville activities as part of its ongoing relationship with Stapleton. In conjunction with his 2015 Traveller album, the brand first partnered with the award-winning and critically acclaimed artist, who is a Ram truck owner himself, for a series of episodic videos telling stories of Stapleton and real Ram truck owners’ experiences travelling in their trucks. The videos can be seen at www.ramtrucks.com/HometownHeroes.