A near-capacity crowd of more than 800 people filled Lanterman Auditorium last Friday to hear the vocal stylings of the Texas Tenors – and in so doing, raised more than $50,000 for the Community Scholarship Foundation of La Cañada Flintridge.
The show was the culmination of a relationship between the trio — Marcus Collins, J.C. Fisher and John Hagen —and La Cañada Flintridge that grew from an encounter between the group and local resident Martha Burns on a cruise ship in 2009. Burns became a dedicated fan of the group, which that year performed its mix of country and classical music on the NBC show, “America’s Got Talent.”
Over time, she became a friend.
Then last year Burns’ niece, Wendy Wyatt, volunteered her home as a place for two of the tenors to stay when they came to Los Angeles to remaster their CD. The groundwork was set for what turned out to be a big night.
“We got to be great friends with them, so they generously offered to do a private concert in our backyard for our closest friends, and we just decided to raise it to a level of, ‘Let’s do it for charity, and not just for a few of our closest friends, but for the whole community,’” Wyatt said.
Wyatt, a past president of the foundation, helped set up the benefit. With her husband, Phil Wyatt, she flew the tenors out and again hosted them in her home. An anonymous donation went to providing the show’s staging and lighting. The Texas Tenors donated their appearance, a value of around $25,000, according to Wyatt.
Locals managed to get into the act when the Texas Tenors hit the stage.
For “God Bless the USA,” 40 wrestlers from La Cañada carried flags and the Flintridge Singers backed up the trio, Collins said.
Current foundation president Valerie Aenlle-Rocha said that the event could have a huge impact on the organization, which issues 15 to 20 scholarships — ranging from $500 to $3,000 — to college-bound La Cañada students each year.
“There are wonderful aspiring college students in La Cañada that need our support to attend the college of their choice and pursue their dreams,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have been able to bring our community together, and it was truly our community that supported us and this wonderful organization.”
Collins said the trio was happy to give back to a community that welcomed them, and said they may be back next year.
“We wouldn’t have known about the scholarship foundation without Martha [Burns],” said Collins. “To have her travel to so many of our concerts, for us not to do something for her doesn’t really feel right. We hope to do more in the future.”