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May 6, 2005



Bush concert Friday, May 13

Texas music hall of fame icon headlines benefit for BCFS’s Luling Youth Ranch


Johnny Bush, who has made a career of singing honky-tonk ballads about hards times, will perform on behalf of folks who know exactly what he’s talking about Friday, May 13 when he takes the stage for a benefit concert for the Baptist Youth Ranch in Luling, Texas.


There will be no admission charge for the concert or the accompanying barbeque meal but donations will be accepted—and encouraged. Eating starts at 5:30 p.m. and the music gets underway at 7 p.m. The Youth Ranch is located off I-10. Take Exit 632 and go south (toward Gonzales) on US 183 for approximately one mile.


“I think it is every Christian’s duty—the number one priority—to help others less fortunate,” Bush says. “To have the opportunity to do something for the young boys and girls who are taken care of at the emergency shelter at the Youth Ranch makes me proud. They know what it’s like to get the back of a hand--this is a chance to give them a helping hand instead.”


Bush, who has written such country standards as “Whiskey River,” “Sound of a Heartache,” and “When My Conscience Huerts the Most” and also recorded such classics as “Green Snakes on the Ceiling” and “There Stands the Glass,” is now in his fifth decade as a performer. However, the extra emphasis on “helping as many people as I can” is just a few years old—dating to a medical breakthrough that fully restored his vocal power after a 30 year struggle with a rare disease that ravaged him just as his career was zooming toward super stardom.


In 1972, just as “Whiskey River” (which became Willie Nelson’s signature song) was climbing the charts toward number one and his fan base was exploding, Bush was stricken with a strange disease that caused his vocal chords to spasm and constrict. Almost 15 years later a speech therapist taught him exercises that allowed him to sing with about 75 per cent of his original range—though he couldn’t talk for three days after a concert.


That allowed him to record and tour again, but “I still couldn’t even read bedtime stories to my grandchildren,” he recalls. “I had prayed about it for years and finally had decided that God was punishing me because I hadn’t become a gospel singer—a lot of people had told me that.”


But a conversation with Buckner Fannin, then the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, changed his mind. “Buckner told me that God wanted his children to be whole and that I wasn’t under a curse. He even assured me I would be welcome to worship at Trinity so I took him up on it—and he was telling the truth,” Bush explains.


Beginning in 1986 Bush and his family became a regular part of the congregation.


Then in 2002 his daughter, Gaye Lynn Litton—a deacon at Trinity, asked him to help raise money for Alpha House, a rehabilitation home for women with alcohol and drug abuse problem operated by the church.


“How can I help you when I can’t talk and it takes all I’ve got just to sing occassionally,” he responded. “You just commit to doing what you can to help and God will give you what you need to do what He wants you to do.”


Just a few days later Dr. Blake Simpson, a throat specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, unexpectedly called to tell him about a new procedure he had developed to treat the symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia—injections of Botox directly into the muscles surrounding the vocal chords.


Suddenly he could talk normally—and could hit the clear, high notes that made up his signature sound without pain or residual damage. “Since then I’ve been doing about 100 concerts a year and packing in as many benefit performances for folks like the Youth Ranch and Habitat For Humanity as I can,” Bush says. He also sings at Trinity services from time to time.


He has released two albums in the past six months that have been well received by critics and fans and remains convinced his honky-tonk songs have a solid a moral base.


“I challenge anyone to listen to the words of any song I’ve ever recorded and they’ll hear that I never glorify the drinking and the cheating,” he insists. “My message is that you don’t want to be like the people I’m singing about. These are tormented souls who have made some bad mistakes—and if you make those same mistakes you’ll wind up in torment too.”


“Real” country music and “real” Christianity share a common commitment to one thing, Bush feels: “to be honest about the realities of life.”


And if some people still condemn his material and venues, he says the reaction to his open faith has been universally welcomed by his fellow musicians. “They laugh and tell me that if a church will accept me then they’ll let anybody in,” Bush adds. “Then they get serious and ask, ‘would your church really let somebody like me come to worship with them’ and I just grin and say, ‘you bet—why don’t you try it and see.’”


The evening at the Youth Ranch also will feature a silent auction with numerous items available ranging from a one-day guided South Texas quail hunt (including dogs, lunch and bird cleaning) and box seats to a San Antonio Mission game (and dinner) to Salon packages from Salon David and a night in a San Antonio hotel (and dinner).


The Youth Ranch is one of two emergency shelters operated by Baptist Child & Family Services. It serves children who have been temporarily removed from their homes while the Department of Child Protective Services investigates possible neglect or abuse charges.


For additional information about the concert and barbecue contact Jim McWorter at (210) 861-2481 or the BCFS office at (210) 832-500.


Baptist Child & Family Services (www.bcfs.net) is a San Antonio-based human service organization with locations and programs throughout Texas and five foreign countries: Mexico, Moldova, Russia, Romania and Sri Lanka. Programs managed or offered through BCFS include residential services for emotionally disturbed children, assisted living services and vocational training and employment for special needs adults, mental health services for children and families, foster care, pre-natal and post-partum health services, and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.


Craig A. Bird

Director of Communications

Baptist Child & Family Services

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