The Boys are Back

By Sherrie Norris (

Article Published: Sep. 27, 2012 | Modified: Oct. 5, 2012
The Boys are Back

The Oak Ridge Boys will perform Oct. 4 in Boone.

Photo submitted

Doing the right thing and “giving back” are nothing new for The Oak Ridge Boys.

The popular country band’s upcoming show in Boone is proof enough, as The Oak Ridge Boys will perform Thursday, Oct. 4, to help raise money for the Sugar Grove Developmental Day School.

The show takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center on the Appalachian State University campus. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and local bluegrass act Carolina Crossing will open for the band.

“We’ve been blessed with a very long and very successful career,” said the group’s bass singer, Richard Sterban, in a telephone interview on Monday. “And, with that blessing, comes a responsibility. We were all raised right — to be honest in all of our dealings and to treat people right. We’ve always tried to help the less fortunate and have tried to live by that rule.”

The group receives “a lot of requests for charitable events,” Sterban said. “And, obviously, we can’t do them all — we still have to make a living — but we take it case by case. Everything depends on the individual need and if fits into our schedule.”

If it makes sense routing-wise, Sterban said, “and if it’s a cause we believe in, then we give it serious consideration. It’s important to do these things and get involved.”

No one could be happier than Karen James that coming to Boone “makes sense” to the award-winning foursome.

As an active member of the board of directors at the Sugar Grove school, James earlier accepted the task of organizing one large fundraiser to help meet current unmet needs of the school affected by budget constraints.

Having earlier met The Oak Ridge Boys at a private event celebrating the opening of their Branson, Mo., theater, James said she remembered “how genuine and down-to-earth they were,” and did not hesitate to call for their help.

“Fortunately,” Sterban said, “coming to Boone fit very nicely into our schedule, between shows in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and Wheeling, W. Va. Hopefully, a lot of people will attend this concert, and we will be able to raise a lot of money for this cause.”

Sugar Grove Developmental Day School, the only nonprofit daycare in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina and the only daycare providing sliding scale tuition, which takes into consideration income, medical expenses and other factors, is in need of repairs and is feeling the effects of major funding constraints.

SGDDS is currently a four-star daycare, James said, though it has staffing at the five-star level in order to provide optimum care for developmentally challenged children.

Approximately half of the children receive support from the Department of Social Services, James said. “The other half pays tuition according to the sliding fee scale, whereby SGDDS subsidizes $15,000 per year to families who qualify for the decreased tuition,” she said.

The school has been able to “squeak by” financially with small grants from local/regional foundations and donations, James said. “Bringing the accommodating Oaks to Boone, with the help of our local sponsors, should help ease our burdens, for now,” she said.

With dozens of country hits to their credit, including the No. 1 smash-hit, “Elvira,” The Oak Ridge Boys have won numerous Grammy, Dove, CMA, ACM awards and countless other accolades in their nearly 40 years on stage — and they are still going strong.

Currently averaging 150 shows a year, the Nashville-based group continues to deliver its high-energy performances with as much gusto as it did in the mid-1970s, soon after the current group formed.
Sterban was a fan of the Oaks before joining Duane Allen and William Lee Golden in 1972; Joe Bonsall followed a year later.

“I believed the group had a lot of potential, but I never realized then that we would be as successful as we have become — or that 40 years later, that we would still be doing what we’re doing.”
The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs have long billed The Oak Ridge Boys as one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry.

To maintain the momentum through the years, Sterban said, “We have periodically gone into the recording studio and reinvented ourselves — recording music relative to the marketplace, but at the same time, staying true to ourselves.”

Case in point, he said, was with “The Boys are Back,” a recording, he said, that attracted a younger set of fans.

With three new projects in the last year, a new one released this week and an annual Christmas tour coming soon, The Oak Ridge Boys have no plans to retire any time soon, Sterban said.

“We still love doing what we do, and we have fun doing what we do – from the creative process of going into the studio to coming on stage,” he said.

Health is the key to their future, he said, adding, “As long as the good Lord blesses us, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.”

Tickets to The Oak Ridge Boys’ Oct. 4 show, featuring Carolina Crossing, start at $25 and are available at or by calling the box office at (828) 262-6603.

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