Karen Lee Batten’s name might be synonymous with country music in B.C., but likewise, it’s also intertwined with various charitable endeavours.
It seems the award-winning country music singer from Langley is always the first to put up her hand and volunteer to help those in need.
That was once again the case when fellow musician and humanitarian Kenny Hess hit speed dial and called Batten for help with the Hell or High Water concert and telethon coming up this weekend.
The fundraisers, in the works since last December, are all in an effort to raise money for the families of the fire and flood ravaged communities of Merritt, Lytton, Princeton, Abbotsford, and surrounding First Nation communities.
Having grown up in Abbotsford, and specifically the Whatcom Road area, Batten watched in awe and heartache as many of her childhood friends and neighbours were hit hard by the November floods, and knowing many are still struggling to rebuild brings the artist to the brink of tears.
She played a key role in a fundraising drive in Langley just after the floods, which raised $57,000 and filled multiple trucks full of clothing and other supplies to help the flood victims.
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But she longed, like many, to do more.
When Hess asked her to perform at this Sunday’s concert, and to help rally a few other key artists, she jumped at the chance to pitch in.
“I knew in my heart I wanted to do something else,” she said. “I’m super psyched.”
Initially the hope was to host this dual fundraiser in January, but it was pushed back to March given COVID restrictions. And finally, it was rescheduled for this weekend.
The 12-hour online telethon runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, consisting of a livestreaming telethon with musical performances, messages, vignettes, videos from dignitaries, locals, and musicians.
The day also features a two-hour live concert happening at the Clarke Foundation Theatre in Mission. It starts at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.), and can be viewed in-person or online by visiting the website at hellorhighwater.ca.
Between the two components of the Hell or High Water fundraiser, Batten said there are more than 40 artists performing. And in talking with many of them, she said they’re excited to be getting back up on stage to entertain before a live audience – and at the same time they’re anxious to help out all those still in need.
“Actually, it’s fair to say we’re pumped,” she said.
In addition to performances by Batten and Hess, the concert will feature Tom Jackson, George Canyon, Aaron Pritchett, Bruce Couglan, Lisa Brokop, and Jackson Hollow.
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