The Annual Jeffrey Steele & Friends celebrity concert celebrates its 10th year on March 6 at The Franklin Theatre. This intimate evening of music will benefit the Alex Le’Vasseur Memorial Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Jeffrey Steele and his family created the Memorial Fund after Steele’s 13-year-old son, Alex, died on January 28, 2007 in a tragic ATV accident. The Fund was established to memorialize Alex by helping overlooked and underprivileged youth.
The Jeffrey Steele & Friends Celebrity Concert, which has been sold out for the last six years, is the Fund’s main fundraiser. Casey Le’Vasseur, Steele’s daughter and Alex’s sister, has been actively involved with the event since its beginning. “It started out pretty small, as a songwriter’s night,” Casey explained. “We were wetting our feet.”
Casey had just moved back to Nashville before the first show in 2008. “After that first year and seeing the show, I had a vision that this could be really special.”
The show boasts an impressive lineup of artists who donate their time to the cause, some having been involved with the show for several years.
“It’s special to see them get on stage year after year, especially when they tell a story about Alex or share a moment about why they are there. Those are things that connect to the audience.” This year’s lineup includes Randy Houser, Charlie Worsham, Lit, Chris Janson, LOCASH, Jamie O’Neal and Davis Naish.
In addition to the star-studded line up, the event includes a live auction featuring items such as handwritten lyrics and autographed guitars. Casey credits Paula and Ron Kirby, a popular auctioneer team, for helping shape the event. “They really showed us how to run a successful event. It was a perfect marriage of skills coming together.” Casey reminisced on surprise moments from the auction, such as when a pink guitar signed by Taylor Swift went for $10,000.
The money raised from the annual event has supported several programs and projects through The Alex Le’Vasseur Memorial Fund. In the first nine years, the concert raised close to $624,000, averaging more than $70,000 per event. Originally created as a scholarship fund, organizers partnered with Rocketown and 6th Avenue Skate Park to create a motivational environment for young adults through skateboarding. In 2010, the Fund renovated and repaired the Brentwood YMCA Skate Park in Alex’s name. From there they opened two multi-media rooms in the Franklin and Northwest YMCA branches designed to provide at risk youth access to music and media equipment to develop new skills. The Fund also partnered with the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Y-Cap program by setting up an endowment to fund a large portion of their summer programming.
In addition to these projects, The Alex Le’Vasseur Memorial Fund has made grants to several other organizations, including Tony Hawks Stand Up for Skate Parks, Clean Break, The Beat of Life’s anti-bullying program, and Kip’s Kids Advised Fund at the Community Foundation. Charlie Worsham’s Follow Your Heart Fund will serve as the partner charity for this year’s event.
The show’s success is much attributed to the dedicated sponsors and audience members who return to support the event each year. “It has become a go-to event that people look forward to attending,” Casey said. “We’re doing something that people want to participate in. It’s pretty magical.”