Country Stars to Shine at JSU Benefit Concert on Dec 14


(JSU Photo)

by Buffy Lockette

Some of the brightest stars in country music are gathering at Jacksonville State University on Dec. 14 for an intimate concert in the Ernest Stone Center’s Ward Theatre at 7 p.m. The event will establish JSU scholarships and benefit the Randy Owen Center for the Performing Arts (ROC).

The “ROC On” Benefit Concert will feature a star-studded lineup of four former JSU students turned Nashville hitmakers: Randy Owen, Jamey Johnson, Riley Green and Gordon Mote. JSU alumnus Bill "Bubba" Bussey, cohost of the Rick and Bubba Show, will serve as emcee. 

“We are proud to count such a successful group of country artists among JSU’s alumni,” said President Don C. Killingsworth, Jr. “It all started with Randy Owen, who has inspired generations of musicians across the world since his band, Alabama, redefined country music in the 1980s. The ROC will give us the opportunity to pay tribute to him while supporting the education and training of the next generation of artists.”

A limited number of general admission tickets are still available for the show, at a cost of $500 per person. All proceeds benefit the ROC and student scholarships. Purchase tickets online while supplies last. Sponsorships are also available, which include the following VIP perks: reserved seating, parking, a pre-concert cocktail hour, a post-concert meet and greet, and a signed commemorative poster. Contact Joseph Munster for sponsorship information at 256-782-8261 or

For more information about the show, visit or call 256-782-5605 for assistance.

About the Artists

Randy Owen: Country legend Randy Owen grew up in Fort Payne, Ala., atop Lookout Mountain. He supported his education at JSU by doing odd jobs and playing barn dances in Georgia. After graduating with his bachelor’s in English in 1973, he formed the group Alabama – which, in a few short years, popularized the idea of a country band. They dominated country music throughout the 1980s and 1990s, releasing 21 gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums. They’ve won two Grammys, gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, were named Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music in 1989 and Country Music Group of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999. The band was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, while Randy Owen was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019. Owen serves on the JSU Board of Trustees.

Jamey Johnson: Grand Ole Opry member Jamey Johnson fell in love with music while growing up in Montgomery, Ala., the hometown of country music legend Hank Williams. One of the first songs he learned to play on guitar was Alabama’s “My Home’s in Alabama,” and the band’s June Jam was the first concert he ever attended. He enrolled at JSU in the 1990s, playing mellophone in the Marching Southerners, before joining the Marines. In 2000, he moved to Nashville and landed a songwriting contract. After penning hits for other artists, he landed his first record deal in 2005. He’s been nominated for 11 Grammys and is one of the only artists to win two Song of the Year Awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.

Riley Green: Born in Jacksonville, Ala., Riley Green learned the spirit of songwriting and performing at a young age at his grandfather’s Golden Saw Music Hall. His debut album achieved two Billboard Hot 100 hits and his second album – which features a duet with Randy Owen – resulted in him being named New Male Artist of the Year in 2020 by the Academy of Country Music. As a student at JSU, he was quarterback of the Gamecock football team. He continues to live in Jacksonville and stays engaged with campus.

Gordon Mote: A child piano prodigy, Gordon Mote grew up in Attalla, Ala., dreaming of becoming an entertainer. Witnessing the meteoric rise of country superstars Alabama from nearby Fort Payne made him feel like anything was possible. He attended JSU before moving to Nashville and becoming the pianist for Lee Greenwood’s band. He is one of Nashville’s most sought-after studio musicians, playing on albums and touring with country music’s biggest acts. As a successful solo artist, his 11 albums have earned several Grammy and Dove nominations. He has also been named Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year three times by the Academy of Country Music.