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Hope shines

Jillian Pietrzak and Melisa Zimmerman | Thursday, August 25, 2005

A small town girl and an up-and-coming pop artist, Hope Partlow got a chance to shine as the opener for headlining act Jesse McCartney. Teaming up with the teen pop star in a concert at the Morris Civic Auditorium, Tennessee native Partlow gave an energetic performance. The 17-year-old’s vocals, reminiscent of Janis Joplin’s tone, deliver powerful messages through songs like “Who We Are,” Partlow’s first single. But don’t let her rebel attitude fool you. Growing up in rural Tennessee, along with her gospel and country roots, has added a unique flare to her music. The singer enjoys being on tour with McCartney, saying it’s “crazy” to be paired with such a big name in pop music. Although she is still new at touring, she loves how the fans are “cool and devoted” and enjoys signing autographs for them after her show.Her first album, entitled “Who We Are,” is set to arrive in stores on Sept. 6. The album is produced by Grammy-winning producer Matt Serletic, said Partlow’s representative Samantha Bowman. Serletic, Virgin Records chairman and CEO, has also produced big name artists such as Matchbox 20 and Rob Thomas. Her future goals include building a fan base and getting the word out about her album. Partlow also wishes for a good response to her album and the opportunity to create another one.Although the tour has gone well, Partlow was originally worried about how the female McCartney fans would respond to her performance. She was afraid that they would view her as competition. Partlow was not joking when she classified the concert as a “scream fest.” The women outnumbered the male audience members at the concert. Fortunately, the female fans at the concert reacted warmly, especially when she dedicated a song to them, which she called her “anthem to Jesse.” Many fans cheered and applauded her as well as waited in a long line to receive her autograph.The showstopper of the night was McCartney. As soon as the house lights dimmed and the thousands of girls began screaming, the 18-year-old singer filled his set with pop tunes and strong ballads, including a serenade of his song “Take Your Sweet Time” to one lucky fan. His smash hits “Beautiful Soul” and “She’s No You” from his multi-platinum album, also entitled “Beautiful Soul,” were definite highlights of the show. During the concert, signs and what seemed to be a large flag were hoisted up in the crowd reading “I Love Jesse” and “Pick Me,” all paying homage to the former soap star. It was evident that McCartney had won the hearts of the locals from South Bend and those from out of town through audience participation and high-energy choreography.Even though the overall performances were successful, the technical aspects of the show were a bit lacking. The set did not seem to be a good match with the show. Unlike the concert itself, the set was plain and boring. Sound became an issue as well. At times, there was feedback from the microphones and the singers were hard to hear. The thousands of screaming girls did not help the situation either.But by the end of the night, the concert was a success. McCartney and Partlow merchandise flew off of the shelves and autographs could not be signed fast enough for the massive crowds. Both Partlow and McCartney had clean lyrics, upbeat and energetic performances, and good audience involvement. The concert was well-attended and full of family fun.