SIDNEY — It’s not often that local folks are privileged to hear a national entertainer free of charge.
Yet that’s exactly what award-winning singer/songwriter Kathy Troccoli offered to a crowd of about 500 people May 11 in Sidney Middle School auditorium.
Her well-known music and encouraging message were received with hearty applause, and the concert ended with a standing ovation. This brought the dynamic vocalist back for an encore that included the audience of all ages singing along.
The concert, “Comfort by Candlelight,” is a series that has been made available to a variety of host churches throughout the country who want to have the acclaimed musician perform, but can only afford an offering as payment. The event was originally scheduled to be in the Lockington United Methodist Church, but it outgrew the church’s seating capacity due to the demand for the free tickets.
“I have had the opportunity to sing all over the world. In my travels there are constant stories of people hurting, struggling, looking for a respite of hope,” said the singer, who is also known as KT. “Music is powerfully transforming and so is an encouraging word. I wanted to offer an evening where people could come and rest and receive.”
Troccoli’s rise to celebrity began 35 years ago, when the Italian singer from New York recorded her first radio hit, “Stubborn Love.” According to her website, “Kathy’s numerous accolades include 24 recordings, 18 number-one radio hits, 19 Dove Award nominations, two Dove Awards, and three Grammy nominations. In addition to her success in Christian music, she has made quite an impact in the mainstream arena as well, scoring a No. 1 hit with ‘Everything Changes,’ as well as a top 10 single with the iconic Beach Boys, titled ‘I Can Hear Music.’”
Besides being a consummate performer, the Christian celebrity is also a storyteller extraordinaire. Local folks attending the concert laughed at her humorous stories, while some cried as she sang her famous song, “Good-bye for Now,” to comfort those struggling with grief.
“Each of us goes through that devastation … we have to experience that ache,” said Troccoli, explaining her motivation for writing the song’s lyrics. Losing both of her parents to cancer — her father when she was only 15 — she said, “I put my pain to music … what we have with Jesus and that is just good-bye for now.”
The singer’s accompanist, Michelle Margiotta, is a young, talented keyboard- and guitar-player, whose presence enhanced the concert series. “I never have a set list … maybe the first two songs. I usually try to go with the spirit in the crowd,” said Troccoli.
The singer, who is now in her late 50s, has never married.
“People are still worried about my singleness, more than I’m worried about my singleness,” she said jokingly. Instead, she has kept busy performing continually, ministering at Women of Faith conferences, serving on the mission fields of Africa, India and Central America, and she has hosted an annual cruise for more than 15 years.
According to media reports, Lockington UMC Pastor Bill Halter said Troccoli agreed to appear in Lockington because of his responding to an email on her distribution list.
“There was a number to call if I believed we could host such an event. I knew the answer would be ‘No,’ if I didn’t call, so I said a prayer, called the number, and the answer was ‘Yes!’ A Kathy Troccoli concert had a major impact in my life as I was preparing for my call to ministry 15 years ago,” Halter added.
The performer’s manager, Kathy Ferrara, explained why Lockington UMC was selected as one of the host churches:
“Pastor Bill Halter called and shared about the hearts of the people of the church, and the enthusiasm behind getting Kathy Troccoli to the area,” said Ferrara. “When people come together in a grassroots effort, it often produces better results and greater benefits than the traditional means of concert promotion. Very importantly, there was an immediate sense of strong community, and the Sidney location worked well into Kathy’s mid-west spring tour.”
So why does an iconic Christian celebrity offer a concert for only a freewill offering?
“We have already been to several cities,” said Troccoli. “I’m really amazed what God can do with a little prayer and a little dreaming and a little nudge. People are writing to me with life-changing stories. I am humbled and very excited to continue to offer ‘Comfort by Candlelight’ throughout the country.”
KT was candid with concert-goers that her personal life has not been without challenges.
“My story is no different from your story,” she said. “I suffered for 10 years with a devastating eating disorder (earlier in her career). I claimed bankruptcy at 30.” She also battled depression in the past.
The gifted singer encouraged the crowd: “I want to give you the comfort tonight. You don’t have to stay there.”
Halter described the evening by saying, “Wow! It’s real authentic worship. We had an evening where we … praised Jesus. All I envisioned. Just a moving presence of God.”
The writer is a Sidney Daily News contributing columnist. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.