Admit it: there are two feelings you get when you’re at a concert and you see a musician pull a kid up on stage. First, warmth floods your heart — “What an incredible opportunity for this kid!” But the second feeling has biting your nails — “Kids say the darnest things, and, oh boy — what is this kid going to do in front of thousands of people?”
Of course, those feelings are elevated tenfold for the kids’ parents. There’s a certain rush and fuzziness felt when kids get to meet their favorite artist, and some parents have made it their mission to get their progeny to concerts for just that reason. While some families go to shows to meet celebrities via meet-and-greet packages, others get lucky when they’re plucked from the pit. Sometimes, it’s unexpected and by chance.
Billboard talked to different families around the world about their own experiences meeting artists at their concerts — whether it’s a little girl getting serenaded by Taylor Swift, a teenager playing guitar with Bruce Springsteen or an adult daughter getting a hug from Keith Urban. Read on for cute stories, inspiration and togetherness:
Meeting Both Kenny Chesney And Taylor Swift
Peyton, 9 (2015)
Chris Kagiliery (Brownsburg, Indiana), Father: “Peyton is 11 and has probably been to 30 concerts, at least. She loves dressing up in her boots and cowboy hats. People say I’m ruining it for her first boyfriend.
“The first time she got on stage with Kenny Chesney [with surprise guest Taylor Swift], it literally brought tears to my eyes. We’re such big fans of his. We traveled over four hours that day for the show. She woke up the next morning with Taylor Swift lipstick still on her cheek. The TV was on in the hotel room when we woke up, and the local news was talking about it. It would up end being on Access Hollywood and Today. It’s definitely a night neither one of us will forget.
“Concerts have just become our thing. I try to get pit tickets through fan clubs whenever I can so we can be up close. It can be pricey, but, in my opinion, you can’t put a price on your child getting selfies, guitar picks, drumsticks and getting on stage for hugs with famous singers. Heck, Brad Paisley even gave her his hat from last year. We hope to get it signed next month when we see him again.”
Getting A Second Chance With Bruce Springsteen
Nathan, 14 (2017)
Nathan Testa (Brisbane, Australia): “Bruce was playing ‘Growin Up’ in Brisbane in 2014, and he paused mid-song to ask me to sing the chorus with him. I said, ‘I’m not sure of this song, Mr. Springsteen.’ My feet instantly turned to lead. He turned back to the mic and said, ‘That’s OK. I got it.’
“On the way home from that very concert, I asked my parents for a guitar. For the next three years, I took weekly lessons. I practiced hard. I busked on the streets of Broadbeach and just hoped that Bruce would come back soon and maybe I would be lucky enough to redeem myself. I had some unfinished business.
“Three years later, Mr. Springsteen started reading out my sign to the crowd [‘Missed school, in the sh it now, can I play “Growin’ Up” with you?’]. This time, my feet grew wings, and I was on stage in a flash and performing with my great musical inspiration himself.
“My mum and dad and two sisters are my greatest support. They are amazing. They were blown away. There were lots of tears of happiness. Most of all, we were very grateful to Bruce for keeping the faith.”
Taking A Selfie With Gwen Stefani
Lydia, 11 (2016)
— Wisteria-13 (@4MessyJessy) July 25, 2017
Jessica (South Carolina), Mother: “I think [my daughter, Lydia] stood out because she was so young, excited, singing and dancing her butt off!! At one point [Gwen Stefani] said, ‘I love you! There’s certain people I’m going to fall in love with tonight. It’s their energy, I just gravitate to it, and I feel so connected to you!’
She invited my daughter and I, along with a few other people, up on stage for a picture. We were totally freaking out! I didn’t go up because I wanted this to be my daughter’s special moment… She got her selfie with Gwen freaking Stefani!!!! It just happened to be on live photo so it’s really super cool for us to hold it down and relive that second in time!
“My daughter came back down from the stage crying from happiness. It was the most incredible moment for her, and I am so happy as a mom that I was able to provide her with the experience. Even though I had no clue how incredibly magical the night would be when I gave her tickets, I am just so blessed to have shared that experience and made those memories with my daughter.
“That night, we couldn’t sleep. We stayed up giggling and occasionally, I shouted out, ‘Oh my God, you met Gwen Stefani!’ To which she would reply, ‘That couldn’t have been real! What now?! I can’t sleep! I met Gwen Stefani!!! She’s so beautiful and so nice! Mom! Ahhhhh!’ It was the sweetest. We still shout out about it at least once a day. I had her selfie blown up to a medium poster size and framed it for a Christmas present.”
Stage Diving With Against Me!
Katie, 15 (2017)
John Ready, Father: “At Against Me!, it was a strange mix of both terror and pride. I grew up going to shows in California, so that part of me was proud of her getting up on stage, but the parent in me was afraid she was going to get hurt. The girl is fearless, though, and loves Against Me!, so I was happy she was happy.
“[We bond over] music in general. Now that she has grown out of the Hot Topic bands, she is pretty open to listening to whatever. She is better than I was at that age, keeping an open mind about different genres, though I think she always falls back to punk.”
Hugging Keith Urban
Heather, 25 (2011)
Dave Hastings (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Father: “My wife is severely disabled with muscular dystrophy, so every once in awhile you just have to take your kids and go out and have fun. … To us, it was always not so affordable to have front row tickets. At a concert like Keith Urban, other people are standing the whole time, and really not using their seats, so we have always made it our goal to just get right up front. It’s really not that hard to do when you act like you belong there. We have made so many fun memories at different concert venues either getting backstage [or getting] up close.
“Apparently, Urban was not paying attention because [opener] Jake Owen also pulled her up on stage and sang to her.
“Urban told her she is a pretty girl and very outgoing, and just a genuine great person. That made me very proud as a father, because that was always been our goal. I love to see my daughters continue this tradition — even if they’re not taking Dad along — and hopefully they’ll do it with their own kids someday soon.”
Making A Lifelong Friendship With Black Eyed Peas
Dylan, 5 (2010)
Kelley (New Jersey), Mother: “We found the hotel [where] The Black Eyed Peas were staying, we went there to go meet them. My son created a bond with will.i.am. We went to the concert the next night — my mother, myself and my son — Taboo ended up giving him his bracelet. We ended up going to numerous concerts with them. We’d stay in the same hotel, and they’d come down and hang out with Dylan downstairs and talk to him.
“One night, will.i.am. put Dylan on the stage because he thought he was really smart and wanted the crowd to meet him. He sang about three minutes. I was crying.
“My son’s biracial, and he likes the fact that they’re all different ethnicities in one group. And they treated him as if he was their son. They really were like family for two and a half years of our lives…. Dylan has ADD and so does will.i.am, and they connected on that level. My son is a very smart little boy for his age, and they would have conversations that I would get lost in.
“My mom had heart surgery in Ohio, and we listened to [Black Eyed Peas’ The E.N.D.] nonstop, Dylan and I. That CD got us through that period of our life. Dylan would just sing and dance his heart out and forget about everything happening in the world. After that, we lost our home in Sandy. When we were staying in a hotel, Taboo called to make sure everything was OK.”
Celebrating Her Birthday With Elle King
Hannah, two days away from being 8 (2015)
Tamela Georgeson (Portland, Oregon), Mother: “Midway through the concert, Elle was talking while she was tuning her banjo, when my daughter yelled out ‘We love you, Elle!’ Elle replied, ‘My, that was a young voice.’ … She then goes, ‘Well, don’t I have to be on my best behavior!’ Hannah turned around and looked at me like she was going to burst!! I was overwhelmed with excitement for my beautiful daughter! She has wanted to be a famous singer since 3 years old.
“At the end of the show, everyone was clapping after she left the stage. I went back to my bench to grab a sip of water. I turn around and see security grabbing Hannah and lifting her over the front… I immediately rush forward thinking something happened to my daughter… I ask the security guard and he says, ‘Elle wants to bring the girls on stage!!’ He brought four girls up I believe.
“My daughter was so excited and at ease. Elle came back out and the crowd went wild. She announces to the crowd, ‘It’s Hannah’s birthday this weekend!’ It brings tears to my eyes just recalling that. I was screaming my head off for Hannah!”