LOS ANGELES -- For six years, country music artists who come to the West Coast in the spring for the Academy of Country Music Awards have taken time from their schedules to lend their talents to fight a deadly disease.
Sizzlin' Country, staged
on the Laramie Street set of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, features performances by a mix of newly arrived country stars
and established veterans, all united in an ongoing effort to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Clint Black and Lisa
Hartman Black served as hosts for the evening, which featured performances by Chad Brock, The Wilkinsons, Bryan White, Lonestar,
Jennifer Day, Phil Vassar and Coley McCabe, among others.
Bill Lardie, president of Wal-Mart music suppliers' Anderson
Merchandisers, received the first annual Heart of Country Award, presented by WEA distribution executive Dave Mount, chairman
of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of California.
"Four years ago," Lardie told the audience, "I gave my heart.
I heard Dave Mount say, 'When a spouse passes away, a widow or widower is left. When a parent loses a child, there's no word
to describe it.' I came to a dinner like this because I wanted to know more about country music. I'm here tonight to ask for
your heart for these children and many, many [more] in the future."
White, whose photo appears on posters touting
the fight against cystic fibrosis, has been part of Sizzlin' Country since 1996. "I'm such a kid fanatic," White said. "I've
been involved in this because I want to help cure this disease and get these kids back on their feet."
White has seen
new artists step forward each year, adding their names to the list of those fighting the disease by appearing at the benefit.
He also made a recording with other artists titled "One Heart at a Time," tailored especially for the cystic fibrosis
Some 30,000 people in the U.S. have the disease, and cystic fibrosis is the number one genetic killer
of children and young adults in the country.
The five previous Sizzlin' Country concerts have brought in more than
$1.2 million for cystic fibrosis research and care programs.
Tuesday night, WEA and the Warner Music Group donated
$100,000 to the cause, and Clint Black and John Michael Montgomery donated the use of their images for a campaign by Stetson
Hats, yielding an additional $100,000.
Those who attended the Sizzlin' Country event were encouraged to pledge additional
money through a silent auction or by standing and offering spoken pledges.
"Science buys a cure," Mount told the audience,
"and money buys science."