The City of the Angels is also the Land of the Stars, but Stanley Anderson of Bangs returned home from a week-long visit in Los Angeles more impressed with a Christian mission in the heart of the city’s gang area than anything else.
Anderson was invited to California to join his son, “Nashville Star” finalist Coffey Anderson, in the filming of segments to be shown during tonight’s talent showdown on NBC Television. The program will air live at 8 p.m. local time.
The Dream Center is a faith-based mission that ministers to the homeless and poor with which Coffey Anderson has been affiliated for about eight months.
“It’s amazing to see what’s going on,” Anderson said Sunday, two days after returning from California. “They feed 35,000 people a week - a week,” he emphasized. “That’s almost the entire population of Brown County. They have 8.8 acres that was once an old hospital. It’s is the heart of gang territory, but there’s not a sign of any graffiti there; that’s how much respect the gangs have for what they’re doing.”
Dormitories in the former Queen of Angels Hospital, built in 1926, provide inner city residents with housing, counseling and opportunities to leave lives of poverty, drug abuse and prostitution. Teams of “disciples” fan out block by block in downtown Los Angeles to witness and minister.
“You find out fast how strong you are in Christ,” Anderson said of that work.
The Dream Center, which according to its Web site took its name from the effort to show people how they can realize their dreams, also offers assistance in education, health services, mentorship, food, clothing and shelter. It is affiliated with the Assemblies of God.
Coffey Anderson has been active in the center’s radio and television ministry, and members have played a key role in making his continued appearances on “Nashville Star” possible.
Generous members have supported Coffey financially since he went to Nashville on May 24, and a church staff member is handling his household bills while he’s away, the singer-songwriter’s father said. They have also been watching the show together, and voting repeatedly for Coffey in the two-hour window allowed after each Monday’s live program.
“We were in an auditorium with 800 people in it last Monday,” Stanley Anderson said. “After (the show was) over, all they do is vote, and keep voting.”
Anderson said an estimated 175,000 votes were cast last week for Coffey from that church alone.
“But that’s not the first thing they do,” Anderson said. “They pray first, then they vote.”
Last week, “Nashville Star” filmed Coffey giving a tour of the center, performing for youngsters and visiting with center supporters.
“He sang eight or nine songs,” Anderson said of his son. “The last one was a Gospel song, but I don’t know how much of that is going to be shown Monday.”
During the visit last week, New York Knicks star Stephon Marbury arrived with 300 pairs of his hot-selling shoes to give away, and actor Sinbad also made an appearance. Several key members of the U.S. Summer Olympics team also stopped by.
Coffey is back in Nashville now with the three other finalists preparing for what promises to be the most important performance of the show’s summer run. They also went home last week for a similar film session. Program producers said it was a toss-up whether Coffey’s home visit would be to Texas, where his father lives, or California, where the performer and his daughter Savannah live.
“This is it,” Anderson said Sunday concerning tonight’s performance. “Everybody needs to vote Monday night. This will determine who will be the ‘Nashville Star.’”
Anderson said the four finalists will be singing two songs in tonight’s show, and Coffey is hoping the producers will give him the green light to sing a song performed by John Rich, one of three judges and mentors on the show. Rich has been the most critical of Coffey’s style, complaining that it’s not country enough.
“We’ll get him,” Anderson said. “If they let (Coffey) sing it, he’ll do that song better than John has ever done it.”
The ultimate winner will receive a multi-release recording contract, a performance at the Olympics in China and other prizes. But Anderson said his son has already been contacted by other recording companies who have told him they would have already signed him to a deal if he was no longer on “Nashville Star.” If Coffey wins, they will have to stand in line until after he fulfills his commitment to the program producers.
The national television audience won’t have to wait much longer to find out whether Coffey Anderson will be this season’s “Nashville Star.”