Tim Danube
associate director of the Nebraskan Student Union, 308.865.8523

UNK- The Kellie Pickler Concert set for Thursday, April 22, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney will also feature Kearney singer/songwriter Ashton Jackson and Indiana vocalist Megan Mullins.

“The concert will begin with the national anthem sung by Kearney High student Ashton Jackson,” said Tim Danube, UNK Nebraskan Student Union associate director. “It will give the concert a more hometown feel.”

Jackson, a Kearney High School student, began her singing career seven years ago when she won the Galaxy of Starts Talent Search in Nebraska at the age of nine. The next year, she entered the talent search again and won the Mega Star Award, which gave her the opportunity to record her first CD.

Last June, Jackson celebrated her 16th birthday and released her self-titled album, “Ashton Jackson.” She co-wrote six of the 11 songs, including “Our World Stood Still,” “Unstoppable” and “I’m Gonna Shine.” In addition, Jackson performed as the opening act for county music star Lee Ann Womack at the Nebraska State Fair in 2009.

Country music singer Mullins will follow as the opening act. Mullins began her career in music at the age of 18 months when she began Suzuki violin lessons. When she was three, she won the Indiana State Fair Showmanship award at the state fiddling championship, singing and playing “Rocky Top,” and also began performing professionally with her brother, Marcus. At the age of five, she performed on the “Crook and Chase” TV show.

At 10, Mullins became the youngest concertmaster in the Fort Wayne Indiana Youth Symphony. She won the Ohio Grand Champion fiddle contest at age 10 and the Young Artist Classical Competition in Fort Wayne, Ind., at age 11. She and her brother performed on the Grand Ole Opry when she was just 14. A year later, she graduated from high school.

Mullins is proficient in fiddle, mandolin, guitar, viola, piano, accordion, clarinet and cello. In 2005 and 2006, she served as the utility player in the house band for the country music TV series, “Nashville Star.”

Her first single, “Ain’t What It Used to Be,” was released in 2006 and reached 27 on the music charts, the second highest debut for a new female artist that year. In May 2009, she released her second song, “Long Past Gone.”

The concert will be held at the UNK Health and Sports Center at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Student tickets are $10 with ID and are available in the Nebraskan Student Union. Tickets for the public are $20 and are available for purchase at the Nebraskan Student Union Welcome Desk, Hastings Book and Video, or by calling the Nebraskan Student Union at 308.865.8523.

“Tickets are going fast,” Danube said. “We’ve had quite a few sold.”

Kellie Pickler began her career as a contestant on the fifth season of “American Idol.” At the age of 19, Pickler finished sixth and went on tour with the show while recording her first album, “Small Town Girl.” The album, released in 2006, featured hit songs such as “I Wonder,” “My Angel” and “Red High Heels,” which referred to her upbringing in Albemarle, N.C. Pickler’s album was certified Gold three months after its release and yielded three top 15 singles.

Pickler has teamed up with some of the top talent in the country music business. Her second album includes songs which were written by the same songwriters for Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Her recent hit, “Best Days of Your Life,” is performed with singer/songwriter Taylor Swift.

The concert is sponsored by the UNK Loper Programming and Activities Council (LPAC). “The LPAC members help with everything like set-up, ticket sales, ushering and advertising,” Danube said.

“Last year Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Secondhand Serenade came to UNK,” Danube said, “so we wanted to change it up for the different tastes.” In 2009, more than 3,000 people attended the concert.

Members of LPAC are listed below, alphabetically by hometown:

Albion– Keri Carder 
– Abbie Weidner 
– Callie Allbright 
– Brittney Hagan 
– McKenzie Weise 
– Miranda Stanczyk 
– Brandi Homolka 
Grand Island
– Sara McMillan and Keely Nelson. 
– Gina Fagiolo and Rachel McPherson. 
– Candace Long 
– Ariane Aten 
– Pierre Jefferson and Kylie Jesionowicz. 
– Ashley Wegener and Jennifer Wegener. 
– Julie Day 
– Samantha Bohl 
– Meagan Doyle 
– Benjamin Fullerton 
– Briana Mohr, Hillary Thompson and Heather McLain. 
– Rita Hood 
– Kelli Lechtenberg 
– Heather Sullivan 
– Wes Thoene