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Introducing Jake Owen Superfan LaVonda Harrison – “I hope he doesn’t get tired of seeing my face”

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

Here at Think Country, we’re absolutely loving this Superfan series.  This is the third installment and we hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are.  The one thing we know for sure is there are no shortages of devoted followers of country music and it’s never easy for us to choose just one person each time because there are a lot of serious fans out there, but alas, we must narrow it down.  We think we have a great one this time around.  We’d like you to meet LaVonda Harrison of Dallas, Texas.  She’s one loyal Jake Owen fan and just wait until you hear why!

LaVonda first discovered Jake Owen on the radio back in 2006 when he released his Startin’ With Me album.   That was the beginning of a long, amazing relationship.  Platonic, of course, but quite wonderful nonetheless.

Let’s dig in and hear a little bit from LaVonda herself, shall we?

Think Country:  Where and when did you first see Jake Owen live?

LaVonda Harrison:  June 2011 in Biloxi, Mississippi as an opener for Keith Urban on the Get Closer Tour.  It was June 16, 2011.  Bon Jovi was on a break and I had the end-of-tour blues, so I decided to hit several of Keith Urban’s Get Closer Tour dates.  June 16th was the opening date of the tour in Biloxi and I got caught in traffic going to the concert.  Thinking we were going to miss the opening act, I turned to my friend and said, “Oh, well.  It’s just that Jake Owen guy.”  We made it in time just as he came on stage.  A few songs in, he sings “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” and comes down the ramp.  After he walks away, I tell my friend, “I’m in trouble.  I think I found a new favorite.”

Think Country:  Before you were a Jake Owen fan, what band or artist was your favorite?

LaVonda Harrison:  Bon Jovi and Keith Urban.

Think Country:  Since becoming a Jake Owen fan, how many times have you seen him live?

LaVonda Harrison:  196 times.

Think Country:  What is the furthest you’ve traveled to see Jake in concert?

LaVonda Harrison:  I’ve traveled to 38 states, some of them multiple times, and one other country to see him.  Canada being the furthest I’ve traveled for him, and if he tours in Europe, you can bet I’ll be there!

Think Country:  What is your favorite piece of Jake Owen merch?

LaVonda Harrison:  My favorite piece of merch is the “American Country Love Song” baseball shirt.  It’s so comfy and I love that it’s red, white and blue.  My favorite piece of memorabilia is a guitar given to me by Jake and the band for my birthday in 2017 while at a concert in Georgia.

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

Think Country:  How many times have you met Jake in person?

LaVonda Harrison:  Happily, I’ve lost count.  I’ve got 36 meet and greet passes in my ticket scrapbooks, but it’s many more than that.

In addition to having countless meet and greets, LaVonda has obviously also had countless incredible experiences when it comes to being a Jake Owen superfan.  We asked her to try and narrow it down to one of her best.  She told us a story about one that will go down in the books as almost surreal, it was just that good.

It was March 31, 2019, LaVonda and her friend Stephanie were in New York City to see Jake Owen play a couple nights later for Chase Sound Check at the Marquee Night Club.  It was to promote his newly-released album, Greetings from… Jake.  While LaVonda and Stephanie were out exploring the city, they were notified via Twitter that Jake would be performing on the Today Show the next morning.  They signed up on the show’s website for tickets and were up and ready to jump in a cab to be in line for the show by 4:20 AM.  They were the very first people in line.  It was a cold and windy day in New York that morning, and a bit intimidating being the only people on the street at that early hour.  That was until a car pulled up, allowing none other than Jake Owen himself to exit the vehicle.  Jake quickly noticed  LaVonda and Stephanie alone in the line, but made his way into the building with his manager.

Not long after, however, Jake’s tour manager approached the two women outside and invited them inside.  Apparently, Jake tried to message LaVonda on Twitter earlier but as luck would have it, her phone was in her pocket and she missed his message.  He told her he was surprised to see them there, yet not entirely surprised.  Superfans will travel for events like that.  The women were invited to the green room where they encountered folks like Alec Baldwin, Emilio Estevez and Henry Winkler.  Being a big Happy Days fan back in the day, it was all LaVonda could do not to completely lose her mind when “The Fonz” walked in, but she maintained her composure.  Jake’s band members Lukas Bracewell and Jon Galletti were present, as well as Big Loud Records President, Clay Hunnicutt.  Catering provided coffee, fruit and pastries.  It wasn’t too shabby being the special guests of Jake Owen at the Today Show.

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

In addition, LaVonda and Stephanie were introduced to Hoda Kotb during their time at the studio.  Of course, as much fun as their time at the Today Show was, it had to come to an end.  Just as it was ending, and they were about to go on their way, Jake Owen asked them what their plans were.  They explained they were just going to do some shopping.  He asked if they’d like to hang out for the day.  Well, of course they would!  They found themselves at the VEVO Studios where Jake was shooting two acoustic videos and then on to the AOL Studios where Jake was doing an interview for the Build Series.

 

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

LaVonda found that although the day was exciting, it was definitely a learning experience.  “That was truly a surreal experience to see the other side of how things really are for him.  I’ve always known he works hard, but to see his entire day really brought to light just how hard he works.  For those who think it’s all glamour, they are wrong.  I’ll never forget this day.  It was so special and I can’t believe he’d even think of asking us to be his guests for the day.  I wish I would’ve talked more but just couldn’t as it was so much to take in.  I’d describe a day in his life as standing in the center of a hurricane so fast, people pulling at you from all directions, yet exciting at the same time.”  She summed up the day by saying, “I know to Jake it was just a day in the life, but to us it was one of the best days of our lives.  I’m still not sure I didn’t dream all of this.”

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

That was quite an experience wasn’t it?  Even the biggest fans don’t often find something as special like that happening to them.  I guess the artist has a lot to do with it, and we really need to give Jake Owen props for being appreciative of the fans that support him.  Especially superfans like LaVonda Harrison.  It’s important to point out that there’s a difference between being a superfan and a stalker.  Superfans know there’s a line.   They can love an artist for the talent they share, but they understand and respect that they have a personal life.  They keep that personal life sacred for the artist.  Fans like LaVonda Harrison have earned the trust of Jake Owen by allowing his personal life to be just that.  Personal.  Never mistake a superfan for a stalker.  They are not one and the same.

With that, why does LaVonda Harrison believe she is one of  Jake Owen’s biggest fans?  “I’ve been there in a packed arena supporting him and his band, but I’ve also been there when no one was standing and singing along except me.  I want to see him succeed just as I want to see members of my family do well and succeed.  I’ve got books full of ticket stubs, enough concert pictures to fill countless photo albums, more concert shirts than I can wear and memorabilia that could be sold for thousands, but it’s the joy his music brings me that’s priceless.”

Think Country:  What is one of your favorite Jake Owen songs and why?

LaVonda Harrison:  “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You”.  It’s an old one, but it’s my favorite.  It kind of makes me think of my husband and me when we first started out.  As with most young couples, we didn’t have much money, but we had each other, especially with the line in the song, “girl I can’t buy you a big diamond ring or a house on a hill full of life’s finer things, and I’ll tell you right now there’s a whole lot that I just can’t do but oh baby don’t think I can’t love you”.  Jake dedicated that song to my husband and me when we saw him in Vegas on our 25th anniversary.

Think Country:  What is your favorite Jake Owen album and why?

LaVonda Harrison:  Easy Does It from 2009.  It has so many gems on it, one being “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You”, which is my favorite.  It also has “Anything For You” which really showcases the beautiful, deep timber of his voice.

Think Country:  As a superfan, if you could create the next Jake Owen tour, how would you do it to make it as fan friendly as possible, while still making it safe for Jake and his people?

LaVonda Harrison:  Jake is so good at crowd interaction that this is a tough question.  I don’t know what I could add here that hasn’t been done.  He had VIP packages on the Life’s Whatcha Make It Tour a couple of years ago.  As a part of that package, you were allowed to stand side stage for half the show.  Those VIP packages were great experiences and I’d love to see that happen again.  Hopefully, Coronavirus hasn’t forever destroyed the possibility of high artist/fan interaction.

Think Country:  What song would you like Jake to cover for his next album and why?

LaVonda Harrison:  You’re going to laugh.  I’ve always wanted to hear him cover “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi.  In a weird way, Bon Jovi brought me to find Jake when they ended their 2010 tour and I was looking for music.  I found it in Keith Urban, with Jake being his opener on the Get Closer Tour.  I got a tease of him singing “Wanted Dead or Alive” in Pullyap, Washington a few years ago.  He sang the first line and I screamed so loud and hard I lost my voice for three days, ending in a doctor’s visit for a steroid shot to get my voice back.  Haha!

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

Think Country:  As a Jake Owen superfan, you have one paragraph to openly talk to Jake.  The floor is yours.  Go!

LaVonda Harrison:  I’ve actually gotten to say this to him, but it’s worth repeating.  I’d thank him for his friendship, his music that brings me so much joy and thank him for some great friendships I’ve made through love of his music.  I was a fairly shy person, but that has changed over the years as I’ve traveled to so many places to see him and met so many people at his shows.  I love his outlook and positivity!   Lastly, I’d say I hope he doesn’t get tired of seeing my face.  Ha!

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

Well, LaVonda, we sure hope he doesn’t get tired of seeing your face and we highly doubt he will.  Any artist worth his salt would be crazy to get tired of seeing a fan so loyal and so full of happiness.  It’s always great hearing these stories from fans like you and we hope this feature finds its way to Jake Owen himself.  He certainly should see it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this third installment in our Think Country Superfan Series.  Stay tuned for the next one.  Who knows?  The next superfan might even be you!

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

Jake Owen Website: https://www.jakeowen.net/

*Featured image courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

Photo courtesy of LaVonda Harrison

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Patti McClintic
I’m Patti. Rock music is my first love. My daughter, who was a country fan as a teenager, dragged me in when I'd drive her to school and we would have radio wars in the car. I'd have on my rock station and she would switch it to the country station. Guess who always won? As they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so I did. patti@thinkcountrymusic.com First it was all modern country, but my parents were big Merle Haggard fans. I went along with them to a Merle Haggard/Phil Vassar show at the local fair and that was it. I was hooked on the Hag. Since that day, I've become a fan of bluegrass and I continue to explore all facets of the country genre. I guess you could say, I'm all in. When I'm not up to my neck in any kind of music, I enjoy genealogy, history, my granddaughters and my addiction, SongPop. I guess it could be worse, right? I'm a Buffalo, New York girl living in a Nashville, Tennessee world, and I'm livin' the dream with my husband, my dog and my two cats.
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