Gospel guitarist Richard Kiser hosts Military Kids benefit concert

Gospel guitarist Richard Kiser (left) will be performing his 22nd annual Father’s Day Music Fest on June 16 at Living Well Church of the Nazarene in Salem. He will be performing with Jason Coleman, grandson of Floyd Cramer, and the legendary Charlie McCoy (right).

Gospel guitarist Richard Kiser will host his 22nd annual Father’s Day Music Fest on Saturday, June 16 at Living Well Church of the Nazarene in Salem. The music gets under way at 7 p.m.

Each year Kiser holds the Father’s Day concert to benefit a cause or charity dear to his heart. This year the proceeds will again go to “Mayor’s Military Kids,” an organization that raises funds to provide educational scholarships for children of active duty servicemen and wounded veterans.

Kiser is a United States Army veteran of the Vietnam era. He says when he heard about what the organization does, “it struck a special cord with me.”

Joining Kiser will be Charlie McCoy and Jason Coleman. They will be performing the road show the three perform together all across the country.

McCoy has been a mainstay in Nashville since the 1960s, playing on dozens of hit records, including work with such legends as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Simon and Garfunkel, George Jones, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and many more.  The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee has completed more than three dozen solo albums over the past four decades and performed all over America, 20 times in Japan, and in over 200 cities and towns in Europe.

Coleman made his Grand Ole Opry debut at age 17; two years later; he was given the honor of playing for the Medallion Ceremony recognizing his grandfather, concert pianist Floyd Cramer’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Since then, Coleman has spent his career in the studio and on stage, producing a collection of his own piano albums and touring the country in concerts that pay tribute to his grandfather’s enduring legacy and signature piano style.

Coleman grew up performing with his grandfather at his concerts and on national television, and though he was only 12 years old when Floyd passed away, the close relationship they shared formed the foundation upon which Coleman has built his own career in music.

Richard Kiser is a solo finger-style guitarist who has devoted his talent to Jesus Christ. He plays in the “finger-picking” style of his hero, Chet Atkins. When he was 13, he began teaching himself to play guitar. When he was 16 years old, he dedicated his life to Christ and began playing with a gospel-singing group. In the late ’60s and early ’70s he traveled across the country playing lead guitar for a gospel group. Once his third son was born, he felt led to stop touring and become a full-time father and husband.

For the next 25 years he devoted himself to playing at his local church, plus some occasional studio session work. In the early ’90s, he started touring again as a solo concert guitarist, sharing his testimony and ministry in a variety of venues including churches, dinner theaters, sportsmen’s banquets, RV resorts, seniors’ ministries, and public schools.

During his career, Kiser has won over 70 major awards. Last fall he was inducted into the National Thumpickers’ Hall of Fame in Kentucky, which he says is the biggest honor in his career, thus far.

He has been named “Instrumentalist of the Decade” by the International Country Gospel Music Association. He is a three-time recipient of the “Artist of the Year” from the Country Gospel Music Association in Branson, Mo., and was inducted into its Hall of Fame. He has recorded numerous CDs and instructional videos and also produced and played as session guitarist for over two dozen country and gospel artists.

Kiser’s current concert schedule involves performing over 125 concerts a year in the United States and Europe. He travels with his wife Esther ministering and sharing his testimony. His style of music ranges from southern gospel to contemporary Christian; praise and worship to traditional hymns and even some secular music.

One of his 12 grandchildren, Lauren, age 12, (of Vinton) will be signing the Josh Groban favorite, “You Raise Me Up” for the audience at the upcoming concert.

Kiser will also be releasing and signing his new book “Escaping the Nightmare” about his journey with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the concert in Salem. Copies will be available at the concert, from his website, or from his Facebook page.

The book has been almost 10 years in the making. He shared his testimony about his struggles with PTSD and how he had overcome them, while performing at a concert in Branson. (His PTSD was the result of being shot in a hunting accident in 1976.) The key to his recovery was a particular scripture passage. His nightmares and panic attacks came to an end after reciting the passage from 2 Timothy 1:7 literally thousands of times, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

A psychologist in the audience told him that he needed to share his PTSD experiences from his personal standpoint in a book.

A portion of the proceeds from each copy is donated to Guitars for Vets who will be opening the show with Kiser’s Wire Choir of guitarists. “Guitars for Vets” is a group of veterans, many of whom suffer from PTSD, who have learned to play the guitar as music therapy. When he is not touring, Kiser teaches guitar to veterans at the Salem VA.

Kiser says he is amazed “at what God has done in this ministry in such a short time.”

“The awards and recognition over the past years have been special to me because much of it came from my peers, but most important have been the simple things like an email from a boy who said that my music has helped to draw him closer to God,” said Kiser. “It is times like that, that I am reminded that my mission is only to plant a seed. That seed is to be one of hope and encouragement to young and old. My desire is to plant it through my music and through my testimony.”

Living Well Church of the Nazarene is located at 4335 West Main Street in Salem.

Doors open for the concert on June 16 at 6 p.m. The concert runs about two hours from 7 to 9 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but a $10 donation is suggested at the door to benefit the Mayor’s Military Kids organization.

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