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This is the story of how I ended up going to the fanciest party I’ve ever been to. It was a fund raiser for Second Harvest of Middle TN, and a live music event, and a fashion show with world-famous designers, and my getting to attend it is due to the generosity of the folks at Red Gold Tomatoes. But before I tell you the story, let me tell you the really important part. It’s the part where I tell you why it was so important to me to get to attend.
1 in 6 adults, and 1 in 4 children struggle with hunger every day in Tennessee. This group of hungry people is comprised of children, hardworking adults, and seniors who just cannot make ends meet.
Those figures are staggering to me. Imagine, for just one moment, that this was YOUR family. That the hungry children were YOUR children. That the seniors struggling were YOUR parents. Does that change your perspective, a little?
And that’s why I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Red Gold Tomatoes had donated 43,000 pounds of tomatoes to this wonderful charity. That’s a lot of tomatoes! They made this donation on behalf of an event they’d heard about called Off the Record. It was a night of fashion, music and charity that was held in Nashville on Nov. 1st, at the estate of Sylvia Roberts, which serves as a location for the filming of the character “Rayna James”‘ house in the hit ABC television show, Nashville.
But here’s where it got even better, for me, personally. Because of my relationship with Red Gold, due to some recipes I’ve shared using their products, they offered my husband and me free passes to attend this extraordinary event, Off The Record Nashville.
Basically, it was an evening tying together fashion, music, and charity. They called it “Off the Record Nashville” because they were looking for a way to tie feeding the hungry and music together, as in: “Let’s Take Hunger Off the Record Nashville”, and used the hashtag: #OffTheRecordNashville. It was billed as “a wonderful evening that only fashion + music can create”. And it was all that, and then some!
The fashion designers in Nashville are making a huge effort to bring Nashville into the spotlight as an important and unique city in fashion design. (I know this, how? Because my dear friend Alicia Searcy, Nashville’s disabled style blogger, keeps me apprised of all the upcoming events Nashville has going on, including our own Nashville Fashion Week. )
So you can imagine my excitement as I anticipated this event: I’m going to my very first fashion show, with designers like Gucci, and Amanda Valentine, and I’m going to “Rayna James” house, and I might get to talk to actor Charles Esten, who plays the character, Deacon, on Nashville. I had a plan, too. I was going to tell him, “It’s so nice of you to help with this charity event that’s raising money to feed the starving models of the world.”. I thought it was a pretty good line. It was either going to be that, or show him a picture of my dear departed Deacon D. Dawg, and tell him I was looking to adopt a new “Deacon”, and might he have any interest in being my adopted pet.
Alas for me, and happily for him, he never got to hear my witty thoughts, so he didn’t have to force a polite smile, or call Security. I did see him, though, because I was seated a few seats to the right of his dimple at the fashion show. To the right of him. Whatever.
Once we arrived at the beautiful estate of Sylvia Roberts, aka Rayna James house, there was a Red Carpet at 7PM. This was the backdrop for the Red Carpet:
As you entered “Rayna’s House” we saw, directly in front of the door, a model wearing what at first glance appeared to be a hoop skirt frame, but was really a frame resting on the floor, decorated with roses and champagne goblets, that servers continually replenished as guests arrived. The model was a fabulous dancer, and she danced inside this frame for the first hour of the evening. She even danced as she strutted down the runway, later on in the evening, as she was modeling some of the designer’s fashions.
Hors d’oeuvres were served by The Southern, and I took note that they served a beautiful Smoky Roasted Tomato Soup, with Grilled Cheese Croutons, and double checked with a server to be sure that the tomatoes used were indeed, Red Gold Tomatoes. In fact, it tasted just like my own recipe for Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons that all my readers rave about.
There was a Fashion show, under a tent, at 8:30, with gorgeous clothes, jewelry, furs, and accessories from the following designers:
John Varvatos, Gucci, Kaufman Franco, Tribe Kelley, Amanda Valentine, Ani & Ari, Cole Haan, Eric Adler, Graziela, Hatwrks, Johnathan Kayne, Minxx By Margaret Roberts, Peter Nappi, Shelly Brown, S Carter Designs, and The Giving Keys.
Throughout the evening, live music was played out by the spectacular swimming pool, and under the tent.
This party was billed as a kickoff to CMA week, which is pretty big deal for the Country Music Industry here in town. Here are the names of the artists who played for us:
Brian & Brittney Kelley of Florida/Georgia Line; Big N Rich; Brooke Eden; Chase Bryant; Kaleo; Maren Morris; Old Dominion; Phil Vassar; The Cadillac Three; Tommy Shaw (formerly of Styx);
Out of my league was I. I also saw Amy Grant and Miranda Lambert in attendance. Tickets to the event were $500.00. Per ticket. So…dude…
I’m hoping those tickets pay for a lot more tomatoes!!! Or maybe for some cans of beans, to go with the pots of chili that many families are going to be able to enjoy.
But here’s the funny thing, even with the price of those tickets, people are just people, wherever you go, and when I walked into the jewelry designer’s boutiques, hosted by Jamie (which contained jewelry by Graziela, Kimberly McDonald, and S. Carter Designs) and the boutique of a designer whose clothes I absolutely loved, Kaufman Franco, since I knew *I* wouldn’t be buying anything that evening, I asked the vendors, “Tell me about a piece you really love” and “Well, what do you like?” You should have seen how their faces lit up and became animated, as they warmed to their subjects. One model showed me a Kaufman Franco sweater that was woven of a material called “cashmere gauze”. I touched it, and exclaimed, “It’s as soft as angel kisses!”. She beamed. “Yes! It’s what I love to put on when I want to be comfy!” It was heavenly, but I never would have noticed it had I not took the time to ask, and listen.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a person who needs the services of Second Harvest of Middle TN, or a person who is able to give to Second Harvest: people are just people, and the way to put yourself at ease in a situation that’s unfamiliar, is to put the person who you’re talking to at ease, and show that you’re interested in what’s important to them.
Having said that, it sure is fun to catch a glimpse of how folks with more financial resources than I have live!
Here are some more fashion pictures, for you fashion hounds!
We were allowed to roam the house freely, as designers had boutiques in various rooms of the home, and in one, I spotted some furs. Now, I wasn’t going to miss a chance to try on something like that, since that was why they were there, so I walked up to the racks, and began looking. I was looking for something soft, that would go well with my coloring, and tried on this little number:
A lady came up and began talking to me about the coats, and it turned out that not only was she the mother of the furrier, she was the owner of the estate, Sylvia Roberts!!! She was lovely, of course, as she told me I had chosen a Russian sable, that was the most expensive one of the line. (I have incredibly good taste. Have I mentioned my innate price sensors, that immediately spot quality, or the most expensive thing in the store?)
“How expensive?” I smiled.
“$42,000” she smiled back.
My knees became weak.
She then showed me some coats that might be more affordable for me. (Bless my heart!!!)
Because I had stumbled into talking to the actual owner of the estate, I grabbed my chance to ask her a question or two about the place. Sylvia actually designed the house. It is, as I mentioned, the place that is the fictitious home of the character “Rayna James” in the ABC hit TV show Nashville. I confess I actually watch Nashville, since my husband works as a music producer here in town, and my son and daughter both work as vocalists in the industry from time to time. “Rayna James” house is even more luxurious in real life than it appears to be on TV. In the words of Donald Trump, it’s YOOGE: 20,000 square feet, with six bedrooms, and eleven bathrooms. In other words, this home was designed for entertainment. But it’s rustic and warm, all at the same time it is elegant. When I get my mansion in heaven, I might let Sylvia design it for me, because the home she designed is both breathtaking, and livable.
It was difficult to determine, because of the size of the house, and the way we were allowed to wander and enjoy the various designer boutiques that were set up inside of it, exactly how many were in attendance. At the fashion show at 8:30, in the tent, there was a 64 foot runway. My husband and I estimated there were probably around 500 of us watching.
I hope “Rayna”‘s yard survived the parking of all the vehicles that brought all those people to that party, on that misty, moisty evening! Thank you, Sylvia, for making your home, and your yard available for such a worthy cause! Thanks to the valet service, who made me feel elegant when I arrived, and who did the best they could not to tear up the yard too much.
Thanks most of all to you, Red Gold, for sending me, and my husband on this fun adventure! I hope you enjoyed these pictures, and I want to, on a personal level, thank you for being the kind of company that serves others, and that cares about feeding people who are hungry.