EXCLUSIVE: Old Dominion's Matthew Ramsey returns home for 9th Nashville Night in Buchanan
James River High School in Buchanan was filled with laughter, cheers, and country music Saturday night as Old Dominion's lead singer, Matthew Ramsey, his bandmates, and fellow award-winning singer/songwriter friends performed their ninth "Nashville Night in Buchanan" benefit concert.
Even though Ramsey's voice is recognized on the radio and his face is recognized by the fans in the audience, it's his heart that is recognized by the people in his hometown.
"We're so proud of Matt and everybody loves him in our town," Cleatus Newcomb said as helped load donated food into the back of a pickup. "Matthew is just a wonderful. His whole family is."
"He's one of the best singers in the world," 10-year-old Emily Clinefell, an Old Dominion superfan, said.
"Just the way he reaches out to his community. I see him as being a really caring person for his people," Ryan Hammond said.
While his community loves him, Ramsey loves his community just as much.
"There's a lot to love about this area," Ramsey said. "I've been around the world and it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. And on top of that, like I mentioned before, the community. The people here really rally behind you and support you. It's inspiring. I love it all."
Saturday night it was all about giving back to his hometown supporters the best way he knows how, with a little music and a lot of laughs.
Over the last nine years as Ramsey's and Old Dominion's fame has continued to grow, so has this benefit concert. Last year alone they raised $30,000 and have created what is now called the Ramsey Foundation. In total over the last near-decade, $170,000 has been collected through this fundraiser.
"This whole thing started with providing food for people that needed it," Ramsey said. "And obviously that is something that we'd like to continue to do but also being in a small town, it's tough to come across some opportunities that people in other areas get."
Some of the important aspects of the foundation will be to continue providing food for people in need and to support local art and music programs.
"So whether that be instruments or art supplies or things like that, if we can boost the cultural arts a little bit, we'd like to get into that as well," Ramsey said.
As for the future of Nashville Night in Buchanan, if you thought 1,500 people packed into the gymnasium at James River High School was a lot, Ramsey says just you wait.
"Nashville Night in Buchanan is growing. Last year it was a little bit smaller, next year it's going to be bigger. I can't quite divulge what it's going to grow into..." Ramsey laughed. "But I promise they're going to be large."
And the town will be there to support him every step of the way.