Country gospel's Lone Star Jubilee bringing family-friendly fun to Ottawa Oct. 16

Marissa Ventrelli
The Ottawa Herald

Saturday, October 16 will be a night full of fun, music, and laughs at the Ottawa Memorial Auditorium as the Grand Jubilee takes the stage for the first time in the Sunflower State. The country-gospel performance will feature performances by family trio The Texans, musical artist Duke Mason, and bass singer David Little. Sam Ray, who along with his wife and son make up The Texans, describes the show as a "Branson-style family show" combining music, comedy, and acting. Ray, who has performed in Branson hundreds of times over the last four decades, says the city's shows are different from those in other country music hubs like Nashville because of their family-friendly atmosphere and flair for theatrics. "The kids are gonna have a good time, the seniors, adults - I mean, you're gonna find something you like," he said. "It's music, comedy, it's just a fun thing," 

As the name of his band suggests, Ray was born and raised in Texas - Fort Worth, to be exact. He grew up singing in the Texas Boys' Choir and joined his first quartet at sixteen years old. After forming a quartet in college, he eventually went on to perform with his wife and son, and the family moved to Branson in 1983. Thirty years later, the group began traveling full-time, performing and giving sermons across the United States to raise money for foreign missionaries. Ray and his family are just as passionate about performing as they are about ministry. "I just love entertaining people," he said. "I love inspiring people, challenging people, and the one thing when you come to our program, we want to make you laugh, we want to make you get excited... when we do that, it makes us feel better We live in a pretty hard world sometimes, so for a couple of hours, we want you to forget about the world and just sit back and have a good time." 

Mason, who currently resides in Joplin, Missouri, is the son of a gospel singer dad and began performing on stage at the age of four years old. He has worked as a singer, musician, and actor during his career. 

Both Ray and Mason have experience performing in Ottawa, but this weekend's show is special for a few reasons. It's the first time Mason will be a headliner at OMA, he says, and it's the first time The Lone Star Jubilee show has been performed in Ottawa as well. It'll also be The Texans' first time back in town in over fifteen years. "The thing I like about Ottawa is even though it's a big auditorium, it's still a very intimate feel there and I've just always enjoyed that aspect of it," Mason said. "People have always been amazing up there, and I'm excited for them to see this new show - I think they're really gonna take to it."

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt an especially rough blow to the entertainment industry, and Mason and Ray were no exceptions. Mason, who usually plays about 160 to 175 shows a year, played just a quarter of that in 2020, while The Texans, who do about 225 performances each year, only had 29 programs scheduled. But things are starting to look up, Ray says. "It's taken us a long time to get momentum back, but people are beginning to get back out and enjoy things in life... it's time for everybody to get back and relax and let's have a good time."

Tickets will be available at the OMA on October 16 starting at 6 pm, or you can call ahead of time to reserve seats. Please call (785) 242-8810 with any questions.