Heritage Park is the former site of Morristown College, a college which served the African-American community of Hamblen County and East Tennessee for more than a hundred years.
As such, the ground is very nearly sacred to many whose ancestors matriculated through its halls or who were educated there themselves.
As such, it was appropriate that Chris Blue took the Salute to Heritage Park to church.
Blue, winner of NBC’s ‘The Voice,’ delivered an enthusiastic mix of pop hits and gospel glory - appropriate for a performer who grew up singing in Knoxville churches.
Blue, who is from Knoxville, walked onto the Heritage Park stage clad in blue jeans and a leather jacket and put on a performance of almost an hour that thrilled the crowd.
Blue started with four dancers on stage and commented that he was excited to be in Morristown for the concert.
“I’m so excited to be with you guys tonight,” Blue said.
With that, Blue launched into a medley of songs such as the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” and even the recent “Old Town Road.”
But it was his gospel music that elevated the evening to a higher plane.
Blue soared through “Take Me to the King,” using his soulful voice to melt even the most frozen fan at the concert.
“I truly believe that love always wins, it always heals,” Blue said. “As I think about the world we live in, you all are standing on the cold weather and you’re doing great! I love you guys.”
Blue reached out to the crowd about his faith in Jesus Christ.
“Tragedy happens all of the time,” Blue said. “Not just here, but all over the world. If you don’t know God, it’s hard to survive. The God I serve is love. God will give you the strength to never give up.”
Emily Ann Roberts, also a Voice contestant from Knoxville, was the warmup act for Blue and provided a worthy lead-in.
“I love living in East Tennessee, that is what my career has been about,” Roberts said.
Roberts sang one of her original hits, “God made, Tennessee raised” about her home state.
As Roberts has listened to country music her entire life, she had a medley of songs performed by ladies of country music, including songs by Loretta Lynn, the Dixie Chicks, and Shania Twain, among others.
Several fans in the crowd from South Carolina said that they had traveled from there to see Roberts.
“That’s prech (precious)!” Roberts said.
She ended her set with Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.”
Other performers included local acts Sacred Calling and Further Born as well as Georgia country artist Stuart Clawson.
A fireworks show concluded the day of activities at the park.