YOUNGSTOWN - The sweet serenade of Kenny G's soprano saxophone is being met by howls of approval from dogs county-wide.
That is not to call his fans dogs, though certainly many animal lovers will be in attendance Monday night at the Covelli Centre concert, but rather to recognize that proceeds from the concert are benefiting the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County.
Kenny G, who owns several French bulldogs, admits to being an animal lover himself.
"I have a couple of dogs myself," Kenny said over the phone, "so I'm excited to be doing this one (concert)."
The concert will include something for everyone to enjoy, according to the smooth jazz artist. He and his band have prepared a repertoire of classic holiday songs as well as some of his hit songs. The Grammy award-winning saxaphonist's "Miracle: The Holiday Album" has sold more than 7.2 million copies since its 1994 release and continues to hold the spot as the top-selling Christmas album since 1991.
Kenny said the night will be filled with romantic moments to relish with loved ones, a variety of musical instruments to delight music students, and such good solos by other band members that "you'll forget you even came to see me play."
"I have a great band with me," Kenny said, "We've been together for 25 years."
He said this would be his first concert to benefit an animal welfare league and that he was happy to do it saying, "It's a win-win with a good charity."
Brent Mager, concert producer and volunteer for the local AWL, organized the concert. Mager said he was brought on to help with fundraising by Dr. Rufis Sparks, a member of the AWL board. Mager and board members discussed having concerts to raise money for the renovation of the old Thunderplex building on Youngstown Kingsville Road into a new animal shelter complex.
The combination of Mager's experience as a concert producer and the connections of board member Caryn Covelli to the venue resulted in the Kenny G Holiday Concert. Mager said it worked out particularly well since this year since the arena would not have the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and was in need of a holiday special.
Mager said the concert will provide a "good jump start" to fund the renovations.
The new center will cost about $6 million to renovate, according to Barb Busko, president of the local AWL. The new facility will hold 250 animals, between cats and dogs, in 3,900 square feet of kennel space. This far exceeds the current shelter, which only holds 25 dogs.
"It's the first of its kind in the country," Busko said, "In partnership with Kent State University, students will get training within the shelter and will be able to get their degrees through the program.'
Besides offering expanded kennel space and a two-year certified veterinarian technician program, the center will house a pet supply store. The AWL offers humane investigations, a 24-7 emergency rescue team and obedience classes, among other services. Tickets benefiting the AWL can be purchased through the Covelli Centre or are free with a yearlong $20/month pledge to the AWL through www.animalwelfareohio.com.