The Callaway County Bicentennial Kick-Off Gala will feature a performance by a renowned jazz musician with roots in Fulton.
Singer and pianist Joe McBride was born in Fulton and spent part of his young life in town with his family when he wasn't attending Missouri School for the Blind in St. Louis. At nine months old, McBride was diagnosed with glaucoma and eventually lost his eyesight at age 12.
"My earlier years are when I had the best sight, so I remember the Fulton people, the skies, the stars at night, the snow and the trees, and the beautiful countryside," McBride said.
After the age of 5, McBride would spend nine months out of the year at school in St. Louis and would spend holidays and summer vacations with his family in Fulton. He discovered his cousin's keyboard at a family gathering and fell in love with it when he was just 4 years old.
"During the party, they couldn't pull me away from that keyboard. When (my parents) took me home, I cried for days and days until my family finally got me a keyboard," he said.
While McBride was thankful for the musical opportunities he had while in St. Louis, he attributes much of his early music education to his time in Callaway County. He remembers being home and picking up radio channels from Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock and Chicago that "fed" his soul for most of his childhood.
"Music was my greatest companion, especially during the hard times," he said.
McBride's parents ended up moving from Fulton to Columbia in 1975, and he spent time between there and St. Louis before his music career took off. While he still has cousins, aunts and uncles in Fulton, he admitted he has not been able to return to his hometown much since leaving.
McBride graduated from Webster University in St. Louis, and his music career relocated him to San Diego and then Dallas, where he has lived since. His music styles have included smooth jazz, Latin jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul.
Over the past decade, McBride said, he has had opportunities to perform across the globe in places like South Africa and Israel. In 2018, McBride's agent presented him with the opportunity to perform at the Callaway County Bicentennial Gala.
"Of course I jumped at the opportunity at going back to my roots," he said.
The Bicentennial Kick-Off Gala will take place from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Meadow Lake Country Club in New Bloomfield. There will be cocktails, dinner and a concert by McBride and his band, The Texas Rhythm Club.
Tickets cost $60 or $125 for seats close to the stage and wine with dinner. They can be purchased by calling 573-642-3055 or emailing [email protected]
While McBride traditionally has played with a quartet, he said his band has been adding an arrangement of horns lately, which will be on display at the gala.
"It's always a pleasure to perform for someone, but it will be extra special to perform for my family back in my birthplace," McBride said.