Entertainment, On A High Note

Scott Hamilton brings his skating and musical “Friends” to Nashville for annual benefit concert

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation

For the past three years, former Olympic skating champion Scott Hamilton has invited the world’s finest skaters to Nashville and paired them with some unbelievable musical talent in a winning combination called “Scott Hamilton & Friends.” Hamilton is bringing the unique skating-meets-music event back for a fourth year, Sunday, November 24th, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

If you’re curious about the show’s format, here’s how it shakes out. On the arena’s main rink, an array of champion figure skaters, who have more than 20 combined Olympic medals, will perform routines simultaneously with live musical performances. The great skaters include Olympic Ice Dancing Gold Medalists partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White, World Champion Jeffrey Buttle, and U.S. National Champions Mirai Nagasu and Max Aaron. They’ll be skating to the sounds of a stellar lineup of musical acts: Kenny Loggins, Runaway June, Gavin DeGraw, vocal group Mercy Me, Jonathan Cain from Journey and John Elefante of classic rock band Kansas, all backed by the band Sixwire. Hamilton and his good friend,  rock star Sheryl Crow, will co-host the show.

Each year, Hamilton likes to add a slight tweak, and this year’s involves the music. “The key to everything is to make the show a little different each time,” Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal winner, says in an upbeat tone, “For this one, there are more different styles of music. Runaway June is really the only traditional country act. I’m an 80s music guy, so to celebrate the 35th year of my Gold Medal, we have these great 80s all-star artists in Kenny Loggins and Jonathan Cain and John Elefante. It has been really fun to see this show blossom over the years.”

Scott Hamilton poses with his wife Tracie and their children Eveline, Jen Paul, Adien and Max Hamilton. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Scott Hamilton CARES

All of this entertainment comes together for a higher purpose. Proceeds from the show benefit the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, which is dedicated to changing the future of cancer treatment through innovative programs and research. Hamilton himself is a cancer survivor, having undergone several treatments for testicular cancer and a brain tumor. He founded the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation to help with cancer patient support.

“No one is immune from cancer – yet,” Hamilton says. “We all know someone that has been affected by cancer. Sheryl Crow, as many people may know, is a cancer survivor. So, the whole nature of this event is to bring people together for a common cause. Our focus is raising funds for research.” The Foundation also looks to change the future of cancer treatment by funding advanced research that treats the cancer itself while sparing the patient, going beyond traditional chemotherapy, which can have devastating side effects. “That is going to be a game-changer in cancer treatment,” Hamilton promises.

Hamilton, an Ohio native, has hosted similar “Friends” events in Cleveland to benefit programs at the Cleveland Clinic, where he received previous cancer treatments. Kenny Loggins performed at one of those shows and contacted Hamilton about participating in Nashville this year. “In 2008, Kenny did the show in Cleveland,” Hamilton recalls. “We would often run into each other after that at various other functions. I saw him on the Capitol Fourth of July celebration a couple of years ago and we talked about him coming to Nashville. Kenny is such an iconic artist and it’s so great to have him.”

With the additions of Loggins, Cain and Elefante, there’s definitely a classic rock feel to the show. But it’s all music you can skate to, Hamilton assures. “We’re all about movement to music,” he points out. “And this music will be so much fun for the skaters. Our job is to come up with the right mood and atmosphere for each performance, to keep the show fresh and interesting. We want to make sure that everybody goes out of the arena happy.”

In an excited tone, Hamilton adds, “When you bring these skaters and musical artists together, it’s really a spectacular show. And this year, we’re going to rock the house!” “Scott Hamilton & Friends” takes place Sunday, November 24th, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Bridgestone box office.