By M. Clare Haefner
Killeen Daily Herald
Jeff Senour is on a mission to give back to America's heroes and inspire youth to follow their dreams.
Saturday night, Senour and his CTS bandmates will begin that mission - what Senour calls the Freedom Rock Experience - in Killeen.
"We wanted to have a concert that honors our heroes," Senour said, describing the show CTS has been working to bring to fruition for three years.
CTS, which stands for Consider The Source, will perform for soldiers, the community and those gathered for this weekend's Patriot Guard Riders National Gathering of the Guard in a new kind of show for the band.
They'll be sharing the stage with members of the Harker Heights High School orchestra, playing several original CTS songs, including one called "Quarter Mile" to open the show.
"They're also playing a song I wrote called 'Snowball Express' that honors women and children who lost soldiers. We've performed 'Snowball Express' for about three years and it will be really neat to perform it with the orchestra," Senour said. "We hope it's very well received and we hope to do (the Freedom Rock Experience) all around the country. It will be a real synergy of family and community and a way of honoring the country's heroes."
Senour has been working with Killeen Independent School District and Harker Heights High School's orchestra for about five months to make Saturday's concert happen.
His 14-year-old daughter plays violin, and Senour said he saw the enthusiasm her orchestra had when they performed on stage and it inspired him to bring that feeling to other orchestra members across the country.
"We want to really inspire young people to work hard and stay in school. We want them to live those dreams and to know that it takes hard work but if you persevere you'll get there," he said.
CTS will meet the HHHS orchestra members who will be performing with them for the first time today during a visit to the school. They're only planned pre-concert rehearsal time together will be a sound check Saturday afternoon, but Senour isn't worried about the collaboration.
"We sent the music ahead and they've had lots of time to learn. There will be about 90 or 100 students performing with us and (HHHS orchestra director) Jeremy Cameron will perform a violin solo," Senour said.
HHHS will open Saturday's show with a couple of their own songs before sharing the stage with CTS for a couple of songs. Then CTS will close out the show with their rock music.
"We're getting pumped up and it's gonna be a lot of fun," Senour said.
If all goes well Saturday, CTS hopes to take the Freedom Rock Experience on the road, collaborating with other high school orchestras and raising funds to honor America's heroes, be it military service members or police and firefighters.
For Senour, honoring America's heroes is the most important part of what CTS does as a band. In fact, it's why CTS formed almost eight years ago.
"I really wanted to do something to give back to our country in honor of the real heroes of our country who sacrifice every day for us," Senour said. "I'm really patriotic. I didn't serve, but I do understand the American Dream. I'm living proof of the American Dream, and it is a reality because of Americans who do serve the country and protect our freedom."
There was no better place to kick off the Freedom Rocks Experience than at the Patriot Guard conference at Fort Hood, where so many soldiers and their families are present, Senour said.
"We want to get the room filled with American heroes," he said.
To help do that, the band is including a sponsor a soldier promotion on its website, www.ctsbackstage.com, where people from across the country can buy tickets to Saturday's show so local soldiers can attend.
"We're over 500 (sponsors) right now," Senour said last week, explaining that many of their fans live in Arizona and California and couldn't come, but wanted to give soldiers a chance to see CTS perform. "We'd like to get 1,400. We're hoping to fill the place with family the community and soldiers."
Proceeds from the concert will go back to America's heroes and their families, Senour said, adding that funds will be given to the Patriot Guard Riders and Snowball Express.
"It's our pleasure and our honor (to do this)," Senour said, "and the show is going to be really great."
Contact Clare Haefner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7551. Follow her on Twitter at KDHnewseditor.
If you go
What: The Freedom Rock Experience
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Killeen Civic and Conference Center
For tickets or to sponsor a soldier, go to www.ctsbackstage.com. Tickets are $20 for military members with ID and $25 for others.
Jeff Senour and CTS also will be signing copies of their latest CD and meeting fans at 5 p.m. today at Hastings on Lowe's Boulevard in Killeen. Miss Texas will make an appearance during the CD signing as well.