American Idol Phil Stacey Headlines Hunger Awareness Benefit In Brandon

By Carisa Biesecker

To all those American Idol fans out there, you may want to head over to First United Methodist Church of Brandon this coming month, as season six’s Phil Stacey will headline a concert to aid Brandon’s Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in its efforts against hunger.Performing at First United Methodist Church of Brandon, located at 121 N. Knights Ave. in Brandon, on Friday, August 20, at 7 p.m., Stacey says, “I was thrilled to be a part of it. Anyway to be involved,” in regard to helping ECHO, a nonprofit emergency center he had heard about from a friend. Using this concert as a prelude to the Feed the Bay effort put forth by area churches, taking place on Sunday, October 24, ECHO Executive Director, Stacey Efaw, states, “We are very grateful to Phil for taking time out of his busy schedule to conduct the concert for ECHO. Our main focus of the concert is hunger awareness.” Here, details regarding Feed the Bay will be revealed, which prompts the community to help fight hunger amongst its fellow neighbors and residents by going out and purchasing nonperishable food items at Sweetbay and Publix to donate on-site that very same day.After organizing donations at ECHO, Stacey took a minute to talk about his fame, having made it into the top five on American Idol. “Fame has been funny,” he asserts. Reminiscing of his days in the military band Navy Band Southeast, one of 13 official United States Navy bands, he says things have changed since his first years of hitting the stage in Jacksonville, FL, where loyal fans always made their way to his shows with signage in hand and could be recognized by face. Now the fan base is a bit different, having traveled to Italy with his wife on his last vacation to be hit up for a picture by an unknown admirer.His plans for the upcoming year include finalizing production on a third album, while finishing up the Into the Light tour with special guests II Edition, promoting his newest album Into the Light. The singer mentions that tours will lighten up into next year, so he can get into the studio to produce his CD. Having toured in the past with Christian singers Natalie Grant and Michael W. Smith, Stacey leaves this advice with readers: “Whatever it is, whether it be singing or acting, that your dream may be, just go after it. My uncle, Mitchell Tolle, who is a famous artist, gave me the best piece of advice. He said, ‘If you have a back-up plan, that’s what you are going to do.’ So I never did. If you love to sing, you’ll sing. It’s for the love of what you do and the connection you make with people, touching people’s hearts.”Tickets, costing $20, are now available at www.itickets.com or ECHO, situated at 507 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon, open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Those interested in getting up close and personal with Stacey can do so through the VIP experience, paying $50 for dinner, an introduction, pictures, an autograph and VIP seating.“ECHO is the only one receiving funds from the concert, but ECHO does often supply food to many of the smaller food panties in the area,” adds Efaw. “We are hoping that the community supports the concert and that it becomes a yearly event to help us end hunger in Eastern Hillsborough County. Together we can accomplish a lot.” For more information, call 685-0935. To learn more in regard to ECHO, visit www.echofl.org. To find out about Stacey, visit www.philstacey.com.