Before they rise to the level of headlining in arenas and amphitheaters, most country acts signed to major labels start out performing in radio station conference rooms throughout the nation.
Frankie Ballard will never forget his first radio tour because it connected him with one of his earliest supporters. Her name is Lindsay Walleman, and his final shows of the year this weekend are dedicated to her memory. In April 2013, the Warner Music Nashville radio promotion representative passed away at age 28 after a three-month battle with sarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer.
“Lindsay was the promo rep, which means she got our songs played on the radio,” Ballard explains. “When you first go on a radio tour you start realizing how the power of radio really works. Somebody from Bakersfield, California, is all of a sudden a fan of your music because of those relationships. I was experiencing all those things for the first time with her.”
Walleman was one of the biggest cheerleaders for all the artists she represented, including Brett Eldredge, Charlie Worsham and Gloriana.
“She was just a magnetic person,” Ballard adds. “She would walk into a room and smile, and everybody would want to talk to her. I’ve never had people like that. I didn’t know that’s what having a record deal meant either. So she was very special to me, and this was such a violent thing that happened to her. She’s diagnosed and a few months later, she’s gone.”
Fulfilling her last wish to start a fund supporting sarcoma research, Walleman’s family and friends launched the For the Linds Sarcoma Fund through the T.J. Martell Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from Ballard’s back-to-back shows at Michigan’s Kalamazoo State Theatre this weekend will benefit the initiative.
“This is the eighth year in Kalamazoo, and the charity is different every year,” Ballard says. “But this was the first year we’re going to try to do two shows instead of one show. And so it was a big thing, and I thought now is the time when I can potentially write a worthwhile check to something I really care about, which is definitely Lindsay. It’s also a homecoming show for me. I get to look out and see a bunch of faces I haven’t seen in a while.”
Ballard’s two-night stand at the Kalamazoo State Theatre starts Friday (Dec. 16). Fans can donate directly to the For the Linds Sarcoma Fund through the T.J. Martell Foundation’s website.