knoxville news
knoxville news knoxville daily sun lifestyle business knoxville sports travel knoxville classifieds knoxville jobs knoxville legal notices knoxville yellow pages smoky mountains contact facebook twitter linkedin rss entertainment knoxville advertising

East Tennessee’s first “virtual campaign” launches fundraising event

“The Voice” winner Chris Blue headlines the no-contact concert and dinner event with dinner provided by “America’s Friendliest Place” Yassin’s Falafel House

KNOXVILLE – It isn’t every day that a candidate for state office throws a gala fundraising event by encouraging everyone to stay home. But that’s exactly what Jane George, the District 6 candidate for Tennessee State Senate, is doing. In what may be a first for a political event, George will present a no-contact dinner and concert on Thursday, May 21 that will allow contributors to enjoy the party from the comfort of their own living rooms. Entertainment will be provided by Chris Blue, Matt Honkonen, and Sam Thomas with a meal provided by Yassin’s Falafel House. The food will be delivered straight to event attendees’ doors, with the concert streamed over the internet. Proceeds from the event, which are a political contribution, support the Jane George campaign for State Senate.

Knoxville’s Chris Blue became an international sensation as the winner of season 12 of the hit NBC series The Voice. The youngest of seven children, he first took to the stage in a family band at five-years-old and by the age of twenty he developed a burgeoning solo career that had seen him grace stages across the U.S., Virgin Islands, Jamaica and the U.K. Just as it seemed his career would take off, the love of his life received a bone marrow cancer diagnosis, flatlined, and Chris made an unbreakable promise: he would not only marry her, but he’d also audition for The Voice. His rendition of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” and “Take Me To The King” proved show-stopping, while a duet with Keys on “Diamonds and Pearls” brought the house down. It surprised no one when he emerged the victor of season 12, with mentor Alicia Keys behind him all the way. Following his victory, Chris inked a deal with Republic Records and immediately entered the studio to commence work on what would become his forthcoming full-length debut for the label.

Blue has teamed up with Knoxville producer/musicians Matt Honkonen and Sam Thomas. Thomas is a four-time GRAMMY Award winning mixing engineer and producer and multi-instrumentalist whose credits include Mary J. Blige, Justin Beiber, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, and Usher. Honkonen spent more than a decade touring up and down the East coast with such bands as Peak Physique, Tenderhooks, Llama Train, RB Morris, and Tim Lee 3 before founding Pitchwire Studios in 2018.

The three have teamed up on an innovative project that makes the best of social distancing. Each artist records various parts of a song – Chris might sing lead and background vocals, Sam might play keys and guitar, Matt could be on hand percussion, drums, and vocals – and all of the parts are layered to create a sound much larger than three musicians. The “Apart Together” sessions were a launchpad for their May 21 concert, which will feature songs ranging from Bill Withers classics to current indie rock hits by bands such as Vulfpeck.

Dinner will be provided by Yassin’s Falafel House, which has gained national notoriety after being selected by Reader’s Digest Magazine and Good Morning America voters as the “Nicest Place in America.” The restaurant was founded by Syrian refugee Yassin Terou on a shoestring budget and has grown to encompass two stores and a catering location. Terou has developed a reputation as one of Knoxville’s biggest cheerleaders and boosters, and often provides food to the underprivileged or in the wake of emergencies such as the Sevier County fires, the Nashville tornado, and now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant’s motto sums up why it is one of the country’s friendliest places: "Welcome all sizes, all colors, all ages, all sexes, all cultures, all religions, all types, all beliefs, all people, safe here at Yassin's Falafel House."

The event will be held on Thursday, May 21 at 7:00 pm. Tickets to the event range from $50 to $250 and include payment to each participating musician and business as well as a donation to the Jane George campaign. Vegetarian and gluten free options are available. To secure tickets, visit

Published May 5, 2020

knoxville daily sun

Knoxville Daily Sun
2020 Image Builders
User Agreement | Privacy Policy