McSwain Theatre's "Group and Gospel" Round of Grand Awards Show Series Set June 15

Monday, June 10, 2013

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Bevy of Ada artists slated for McSwain Show

Ada-based performers and bands including Ken Hancock, Deborah Butcher, Jimmy Tignor, Tom Schultz, "A Servant's Heart", "From the Heart", "Heartland Sweethearts" and "Red River" will all be a part of  McSwain Theatre's Grand Awards Show preliminary "Group and Gospel" competition, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 15.

Part of the Grand Award Show series, this competition showcases the best local talent and gives the audience the power to choose their favorites via ballot voting. Jae L. Stilwell and the Crossover band will serve as hosts of the evening.

Gospel act Vondi Harding, of Pauls Valley, and duos Gary McCarter and Carlee Eaton, of Tishomingo and McAlester; Lori and Ray North, of Seminole; Deana Jo and Mike Vaughn, of Moore; Wiley Winters and Missy Rude, of Paoli and Pauls Valley; Lauren Lee and Liberty Road, of Holdenville are also set to take the stage during the "Group and Gospel" competition.

In the preliminary competitions, participants vie for awards in five categories; best gospel and group performers, male and female performers, and best 16-and-under performer.  The 16-and-under round was conducted May 18.

The top-five artists in each preliminary will be determined by audience vote and advance to compete for top overall honors.

Dates for the Preliminary Rounds:
Saturday, June 15      Gospel and Group Category
Saturday, August 17   Female Performer Category
Saturday, Sept. 21      Top 5 Show

Overall winners, as well as an Entertainer of the Year, will be named during the Oct. 19 finale. The recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award, the highest honor given by the McSwain, will also be revealed.  The 1993 McSwain Theatre Grand Awards Show honored the "Queen Mother of Nashville" Mae Boren Axton for her influence on the music scene.

Tickets for the Grand Awards Show and all remaining preliminary rounds are now available.

Each concert ticket includes an Awards Show ballot, allowing ticket-holders to vote for their five favorites as well as a write-in choice for Entertainer of the Year.

For ticket information, contact the McSwain Theatre at 580-332-8108 or online at

The McSwain Theatre, owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation, is located at 130 W. Main in Ada.

About Mae Boren Axton
Encased in concrete on the sidewalk in front of the McSwain Theatre are two petite handprints and a signature "Mae Boren Axton."

It was during the first McSwain Grand Awards Show in October 1993, when Axton was honored and her handprints were cast in concrete, said J.L. Stillwell, McSwain manager.

Several of Axton's friends and country music performers attended the gala event in 1993.

She was also given the keys to the city by the mayor.

Former Sen. David Boren, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma, presented the award to his aunt, Mae Boren Axton.

Mae Boren Axton's son, Hoyt, who was also a singer, songwriter and actor, sang at the 1993 awards show honoring his mother.

During her career, Mae Boren Axton worked with some of the biggest names in country music; including Mel Tillis, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Eddy Arnold and Tanya Tucker.

With the encouragement from the legendary singer, Ada-native Blake Shelton left for Nashville just two weeks after graduating Ada High School in 1994, according to Shelton's website.

Shelton is now an international superstar with dozens of chart-topping hits and gold records to his credit and has a starring role as a coach on NBC's "The Voice".

Axton is credited with writing more than 200 songs. "Heartbreak Hotel," the Elvis Presley hit she co-wrote in 1955, is her most famous.

She made a life in music and ushered a crop of talent to the forefront of the country music scene. Mae Boren Axton died in 1997 at the age of 82.