Scott Hamilton admits to Billboard the life of a professional skater can be a little lonely at times. "You spend a lot of time in a cold room by yourself," he says with a good-natured laugh.
"For me, what kept me company all those years of skating and training and everything else was music." Hamilton gets to combine those loves for the third year in a row with his Scott Hamilton & Friends event at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Sunday, Nov. 18. The event raises proceeds for Hamilton's CARES Foundation. Hamilton will be joined by Sheryl Crow to co-host the event, which will feature many of the world's top skaters performing their art to the music of acts such as Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, Styx's Tommy Shaw, MercyMe's Bart Millard, Chelsea Field, and the legendary Steve Cropper. Hamilton says it's a labor of love.
"The fact that I get to create and collaborate with Sheryl Crow on an event that raises money for cancer, which we both survived, which combines music and skating is just amazing. I pinch myself. I get up on stage at rehearsal, and I've got all my skaters that are all Olympic and World champions, and Sheryl's got all the musicians that have sold millions of records, and then they sell out arenas all over the country. Now I get to work with them. It's surreal. Because when you see the two mediums come together, it blows your mind. It's just the most unbelievable experience ever. The sound, just the vibration of all that amazing artistry coming off the stage, and then when you see all the unbelievable artistry and athleticism coming off the ice, it's sensory overload. It's unbelievable."
For Crow, the night – which will include performances by skaters such as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Patrick Chan, and Kaetlyn Osmond – is one you have to witness first-hand to believe. "I'm constantly telling people about it. It's not like any other night you can ever see because you're hearing so much great music, and to have world champion skaters performing to those hits. It's just a fun night. It's just a great night for families and it's for a great cause, so it's just an event that you just definitely don't want to miss."
Hamilton says his friendship with Crow goes back a while. "My wife and I went to see her in Memphis, and we had a blast. Then after the show we're standing outside her bus, and she goes, she looked at me and she just sort of smiled and she goes 'I wanna do your show in Cleveland,'" referring to a similar show he organized in Ohio. "I said, 'Sheryl, I never wanted to ask and make that a part of our friendship.' She goes 'You don't have to ask, I'm asking you.' And to this day, it's the most tickets we've ever sold, for one of the Cleveland shows that I used to do for the Cleveland Clinic."
While Hamilton and Crow – along with skater Kristi Yamaguchi - hope to play the role of emcees without a hitch, Hamilton knows that putting on such an event takes a lot of planning and work.
"It's a lot of moving parts, and there's a lot of things happening all over North America - with artists rehearsing their pieces and athletes learning new routines. Then the day before the show, we do all the group pieces, we choreograph the group pieces the day before, and then everybody comes together the day off the show to assemble the show. It's a miraculous process that I never take for granted. Every year I tell Steve Lindecke, who helps me produce the show, I ask him, 'Is this the year we trainwreck?' And he goes 'Stop it! It won't because you do it for all the right reasons, and it's because you are doing something unselfishly to make the world a better place. It'll always come together as it should.' And he's right. It's a lot of work, and it takes a really talented team, but I couldn't have a better partner in Sheryl. I love her. I always joke, and my wife hears me say this more than once, I love her as much as I'm allowed to love another woman. She is just pure heart, integrity, talent, and I could not respect another human being more than I respect Sheryl Crow. I just adore her."
The musical lineup is something that thrills Crow, particularly a chance to perform with Cropper, one of her musical heroes.
"I grew up very close to Memphis and that sound really informed my sound. I took a lot from those early records, and to be able to work with him.... He's really the architect of a whole genre of music. Something that people around here won't have seen, so it's going to be a great night. Having Steve Cropper there and getting to play what are some unbelievable classics with him, with the guy, is a treat and an honor." And, those in attendance just might be in for mystery guest.
"This year, we have a great surprise which we aren't announcing. But, we have another great coming out to surprise us at the end."