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ASU Alumni Association to host free outdoor Homecoming concert with Ohio Players, Lauren Gray


JONESBORO  -- The Arkansas State University Alumni Association has announced a special free outdoor concert on Friday, Oct. 12, to kick off Homecoming 2012.

The Alumni Association will sponsor the concert which will be held adjacent to Liberty Bank Stadium on the ASU campus beginning at 7 p.m. It will feature American Idol contestant Lauren Gray of Hardy opening for the funky sound of The Ohio Players whose recordings of 'Fire' and 'Love Rollercoaster' were Number One hits in the '70s.

Alumni, students and the public are invited to bring the family, lawn chairs, and picnic-style refreshments  as they enjoy the concert which will be held rain or shine. Lauren Gray's soulful sound will begin at 7 p.m., followed by The Ohio Players at 8 p.m.

Ohio Players

The band was formed in Dayton, Ohio, and went through several incarnations in the 1960s and early '70s. Their first big hit single was "Funky Worm," which reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973, selling more than one million copies.

The Ohio Players had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976. These included "Fire," which reached #1 on both the R&B and pop charts in 1975 and was another million seller.  "Love Rollercoaster," #1 on both the R&B and pop charts in 1976, sold another million copies. The group's last big hit was "Who'd She Coo?" a #1 R&B hit in August 1976.

The current lineup features Leroy "Sugar" Bonner on guitar and vocals; James "Diamond" Williams on drums and vocals; Clarence "Chet" Willis, rhythm guitar and vocals; Robert "Kuumba" Jones on percussion; Ronald Nooks on keyboards, and Darwin Dortch on bass and vocals.

Lauren Gray

As Lauren Gray of Hardy progressed through American Idol's Season 11 selection process last winter, her voice was compared to blues icons Etta James and Janis Joplin. Lauren was an early favorite and finished just shy of the top 24. Her amazing voice has opened doors from an appearance on the Ellen TV show to the Idol tour entertaining troops in more than a dozen countries.

She started out singing with her father's musical group, The Mike Gray Band, and can often be heard performing with them on the third Friday of each month at Creekside Loft in Hardy which her parents created as a venue for Lauren to perform.

She was born in 1988 in Pocahontas, graduating from Pocahontas Public Schools in 2007. Lauren comes from a family of talented musicians, and stepped onto the live stage for the first time at 13 years old as her father's backup singer. Known locally as “The Voice of Spring River,” her sound is very soulful and her favorite artists include Jonny Lang, Aretha Franklin, and Joss Stone.

For convenient concert parking, enter from Stadium on Alumni Boulevard. Contact Alumni Relations at 870-972-2586 for more information on this event. 

(Photos: Lauren Gray and The Ohio Players )

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