There are many who are excited about being in Huntington Beach over the Fourth of July weekend, but none perhaps as much as Amy Scruggs.
The patriotic country singer, who focuses on military audiences, will be here the entire holiday weekend, performing, meeting veterans and bringing her homegrown love of country to the people.
Raised in San Dimas, Amy has been singing since age 3. She's the mother of four and has toiled for years in the local country music scene as well as in Nashville.
It was in Tennessee that Amy caught the attention several years ago of key industry professionals who sparked her passion to use her powerful voice for music — and raise it in support of the troops.
Amy's emotional version of the national anthem became a trademark, and soon after being discovered, she found herself performing for appreciative soldiers at bases around the country.
In the last few months, she has performed a Salvation Army show in Bell, a Moffett Field dedication concert in Northern California and Military Night Fusions in Ontario, along with several military-related shows in Huntington Beach.
As well, since 2008, she has opened for country greats including Clint Black, Charlie Daniels, Little Texas, Hal Ketchum, Phil Vassar and Josh Gracin.
I met Amy several months ago at a KinderVision benefit in town, where I had the pleasure of hearing her version of the national anthem. We caught up the other day in advance of her appearances this weekend, and she told me how excited she is to be performing here again.
"There's a new song I wrote that we'll be playing," she said. "It's called 'We Remember (In Remembrance of our Heroes),' and obviously, it's my way of paying tribute to fallen soldiers. That's what inspires most of my work — the men and women of the military and all they do for our country in support of freedom around the world.
"I can't wait for people to hear it. I can't wait to play it for vets in Huntington Beach, and I think each of the events I'm doing will be special. My friend Mike Grumet is the one who started all of these arrangements, and I'm very thankful that he was interested in having me perform here."
Saturday, Scruggs will perform at a Kiwanis Military Support Fund concert at Old World Village and then will sing at the parade Monday. After that, on a stage set up by the pier, she'll be doing a late-afternoon concert.
"My kids are aged 20, 13, 11 and 6," Scruggs said. "They're all of an age where they can appreciate what I do and understand why it's so important to honor and support the troops. The shows that I do, and the music that I make, is my way of showing them firsthand how anyone can make a difference when it comes to saying to these soldiers, 'We thank you and we respect you.'"
From Huntington Beach, Scruggs is off to open a show for Trace Adkins, and then it's on to a busy 2011 supporting the troops. She has been officially endorsed by the AMVETS service foundation for California and has a full schedule of military and veteran events around the West Coast.
But this weekend, she's all ours, so I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy the red, white and blue talents of Amy Scruggs.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.