The Pines Theater in Lufkin kicks off the 2016 season on Thursday with a performance by “American Idol” favorite Melinda Doolittle.
“‘American Idol’ fans will remember Melinda from season six in 2007,” said Tara Watson-Watkins, executive director of the Lufkin Convention and Visitors Bureau and artistic director for The Pines. “Simon Cowell called her his ‘personal favorite,’ and a lot of fans agreed. She won a lot of hearts with her powerful voice and engaging charm.”
Doolittle was tone deaf as a child, and her choir teacher would plead with her to just silently move her mouth instead of singing. Undaunted, she continued to follow her passion, and by the seventh grade she was stunning audiences with her voice.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from Belmont University in Nashville and became a popular backing vocalist, singing for musical icons like Michael McDonald, Aretha Franklin, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Aaron Neville and Jonny Lang.
Doolittle became a household name during season six of the popular television show, when she came in third in the voting.
In 2009, she released her debut album, “Coming Back to You,” garnering rave reviews from critics. She released her sophomore album, “You’re the Reason,” in 2013. She has performed everywhere from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the White House, from the Copa Room to Carnegie Hall.
In addition, she has been a featured guest with the Boston Pops, Charlotte Symphony and United States Air Force Orchestra.
In the middle of her album releases, she wrote a book, “Beyond Me: Finding Your Way to Life’s Next Level,” and she is currently the co-host of TV Line’s “Reality Check.”
Doolittle’s performance begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 for floor seats and $30 for balcony seats. Call 633-0349 to purchase tickets or go to visitlufkin.com.
The Pines Theater 2016 season continues Feb. 11, when acclaimed contemporary Christian singer Sandi Patty kicks off her year-long farewell tour, “World Vision Presents Sandi Patty’s Forever Grateful Tour,” with a sold-out performance in downtown Lufkin. Special guests Veritas will open.
Because the Thursday night show is sold out, The Pines has partnered with Patty to open up her dress rehearsal to the public on Feb. 10.
The dress rehearsal begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are $35 for floor seats and $30 for balcony seats. Call 633-0349 to purchase tickets or go to visitlufkin.com.
“This one truly will be a night to remember,” Watson-Watkins said. “Sandi Patty is one of the most beloved singers of all time, and she’s chosen to begin the final tour of her career here in Lufkin. This is an event you absolutely don’t want to miss.”
Over the course of her career, Patty has won five Grammy awards, four Billboard Music Awards and 40 Dove Awards, and she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004. She has released more than 30 albums, including her latest, “Everlasting,” and she has three platinum records, five gold records and 11 million units sold.
Sandi was introduced to the world when she performed “The Star Spangled Banner” during the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. She has performed her version of the national anthem at “A Capitol Fourth” with the National Symphony, the Indianapolis 500, the Dedication of Camp David Chapel and ABC’s Fourth of July Special.
While her 30-year career is heavily rooted in the gospel music industry, Patty has performed with symphonies across the country, including the New York Pops, Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Dallas Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony and Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
She also headlined the title role in sold-out performances of the musical “Hello, Dolly!” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, co-starring Tony Award winner Gary Beach in January 2012.
The Pines Theater’s 2016 season then continues March 8 with The Music City Hit-Makers, a group of elite Nashville songwriters who perform and share the stories behind some of the biggest hits they’ve penned for today’s most iconic country stars.
Other Pines Theater season dates include:
April 7 — Jane Monheit
Sept. 20 — Jaci Velasquez
Oct. 20 — The Hit Men featuring former stars of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Nov. 7 — Angela Primm
Dec. 8 — Dailey and Vincent