Country music Lee Greenwood will provide the entertainment at the sixth annual “Gulf Coast Gala,” which is set for April 25 in the Carl Parker Center at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. 

The annual black-tie gala debuted in 2004 as a way to benefit cultural and visual arts at the Museum of the Gulf Coast, and to provide support for the college’s “Discovery” youth program, Alumni Fund, athletic scholarships, musical and theatrical productions  and a variety of special projects, such as Lamar State’s July 4 celebration and the Regional Citizen Bee.

LSC-PA president Dr. Sam Monroe said the gala, which is co-sponsored by the Port Arthur Higher Education Foundation, benefits many programs that “enhance career potential, broaden intellectual horizons and enrich the quality of life for people in the area.”

“The gala has developed a following through the years, and people often ask who will be the next year’s entertainer,” Monroe said.

“This year’s event has special significance as the college celebrates its Centennial.”

The “Gulf Coast Gala” includes dinner and entertainment. The event begins with a 6 p.m. reception. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by Greenwood’s performance.

Four levels of sponsorships are available. Individual tickets are $125 per person. For sponsorships, tickets or information, call Donna Schion at 984-6101.

Singer / songwriter Lee Greenwood today is best known for his 1983 hit record “God Bless the U.S.A.”

But that single was not the high point of his recording career.

Greenwood started playing saxophone when he was in grade school. By the time he was in high school, Greenwood was  playing professional gigs with his own band. 

In 1962, he moved to Las Vegas, where he spent years working as a blackjack dealer during the day and an entertainer in casino lounges at night.

Around 1980, while working in a Reno casino lounge, Greenwood caught the ear of Larry McFaddin, then the bass player for country music legend Mel Tillis.

McFaddin was impressed with Greenwood’s voice and ability to connect with his audiences. By 1981, McFaddin became Greenwood’s manager and arranged a recording contract with MCA Records.

Greenwood broke into the Top 10 with his second MCA single, “Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands,” which reached No. 5 on the country music charts.

Greenwood reached No. 1 on the country music charts for the first time in 1983 with “Somebody’s Gonna Love You.” He followed that record the same year with another No. 1, “Going, Going, Gone.”

The singer’s other chart-toppers are “Dixie Road,” “I Don’t Mind the Thorns (If You’re the Rose)” and “Don’t Underestimate My Love for You” (1985); and “Hearts Aren’t Made to Break (They’re Made to Love)” and
“Mornin’ Ride” (1986).

Greenwood’s 1983 hit “God Bless the U.S.A.” reached No. 7 on the country music charts and went on to become one of the most recognizable patriotic songs in America.

After more than 10 years on the road, Greenwood scaled back his touring schedule in 1996, and opened the Lee Greenwood Theater in Sevierville, Tenn.

For five years, Greenwood performed 220 two-and-half hour shows a year with dancers, costumes, lights and a full band. After the Sept. 11 tragedy brought out the spirit of patriotism in America and “God Bless the U.S.A.” regained popularity, Greenwood was moved to go back on the road.