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Smoky Mountain Opry™ to host benefit show featuring “American Idol” runner-up Clark Beckham

clark beckham
American Idol Runner-Up Clark Beckham, American Eagle Foundation President Al Cecere, and celebrity educational Bald Eagle "Challenger" meet at the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater in Pigeon Forge to promote a special December 13 benefit show supporting the non-profit eagle care and protection charity. Image by Smoky Mountain Opry™

PIGEON FORGE, TN — The Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater in Pigeon Forge is getting ready for a big fundraising event benefiting the non-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF), which will showcase an extravaganza of entertainment.

On Sunday, December 13th at 8 p.m., Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry will host a special benefit show featuring renowned “American Idol” season 14 runner-up Clark Beckham, singer/songwriter James Rogers (who worked for country superstar Dolly Parton for 27 years), and “Challenger,” the famous non-releasable free-flying Bald Eagle (that lives at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge). Other special guest entertainers may be announced in coming weeks.

“I’m very excited to help out with this great event. I love Christmas music, I love Pigeon Forge and I love the American Eagle Foundation. So I’m ready to give it all I’ve got come December,” said Beckham.

The benefit show celebrates the American Eagle Foundation’s 30th anniversary and will raise money to help care for and protect America’s bald eagles.

“This special show to support the important work of the American Eagle Foundation offers a spectacular variety of celebrity acts and entertainment. It will also showcase the outstanding pageantry of ‘Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry’ with a live nativity,” said David Fee, president and chief executive officer of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group. “In addition, Challenger, the 26-year-old non-releasable Bald Eagle cared for by the American Eagle Foundation, will soar over the theater audience during a patriotic production number.”

Beckham is a native of White House, Tennessee and a graduate of Lee University. He was involved in the Campus Choir there and led the group as a student director and tenor section leader. He went on to be the runner up of season 14 of American Idol.

Rogers, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, worked as an entertainer at Dollywood for 25 years and is a former board member of the AEF. He is known nationwide for his eagle-themed songs “Fly Eagle Fly,” “Save the Eagle” and “When Challenger Flies.”

“We are really blessed with the many talented performers who have agreed to join us to celebrate our 30th anniversary benefit show,” said Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation. “Their performances will make this a very special event and a phenomenal show! Our trained educational eagle ‘Challenger’ is even up for the challenge. Whenever we bring this majestic bird to an event, he brings a heart-felt smile to everyone’s faces, and stimulates some pretty passionate patriotic goosebumps.”

Proceeds from the benefit show and event will support the eagle/raptor education, care and recovery work of American Eagle Foundation. Dollywood is home to the American Eagle Foundation and its “Eagle Mountain Sanctuary” Aviary Exhibit and “Wings of America” Birds of Prey Show.

Tickets are available at $50 and $75 (plus tax). The VIP $125 (plus tax) ticket package offers premium up-front-center seating, an after-the-show “Taste of the Smokies” food reception, and a performer meet-and-greet and photo with Clark Beckham, the eagle Challenger and James Rogers. In addition, Clark will sing two additional songs at the VIP reception. VIP ticket packages are limited and are expected to sell quickly.

To purchase tickets by phone, call the theater’s box office (865) 428-7469 or 1-800-768-1170, or online at

Theatre owner David Fee said, “We are thrilled to host this benefit show for the American Eagle Foundation.”

Published October 20, 2015

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