Country star Cole Swindell plays Johnstown, meets sister of woman killed on Route 219

Country music star Cole Swindell performs at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Olivia Red was a fan of many genres of music – including country – so when her sister Stephanie Urban found out that platinum-selling country music star Cole Swindell was coming to Johnstown to perform at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial it felt like it was meant to be.

Red, 20, was killed in an automobile accident on May 31. The Indiana County resident was driving on U.S. Route 219 north of The Galleria when her automobile was struck by a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction.

“She loved (Swindell),” Urban said. “She went to two of his concerts down in Florida. And when he came out with his song ‘You Should Be Here,’ I’ve just been singing it to her all the time now that she’s passed. 

“She’s a country girl, so I thought it would be perfect to get him to play this song because she should be here.”

Urban said she decided to reach out to 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial to see if Swindell would honor her late sister during the Wednesday evening concert with a performance of his song “You Should Be Here,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts.

To her surprise, she was offered the opportunity to meet Swindell backstage prior to his performance.

“It’s humbling, it’s shocking and it’s amazing,” Urban said. “When I first heard he was coming to Johnstown I was shocked – like he’s too big to come to Johnstown. And then I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. I can hear him sing this song for Olivia.’ So I thought this was perfect, since I sing her this song all the time.

“I bought tickets immediately and then it turned into something so amazing.”

The Wednesday evening concert was in partnership with McAneny Brothers Inc., according to Brennan Mihalick, director of arenas for 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

“Our town is just full of so many good people,” Urban said.

Urban was one of the many people who packed the arena to hear Swindell on Wednesday night.

Lynn Kimmel, Rose Thompson and Nicole Wedge, all of Johnstown, were three of the several dozen people in line waiting to enter the arena prior to the show.

Country musician Josh Gallagher performs as the opening act for Cole Swindell at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown o…

For the trio, it was a girls’ night out, Kimmel said. 

The women had seen Swindell perform before in Pittsburgh, but to see him in Johnstown was even better, they said.

“He’s good,” said Kimmel, who was also looking forward to Swindell’s performance of “You Should Be Here.”

Thompson said: “I’m looking forward to seeing Josh Gallagher, too.”

Gallagher, the Cresson native and country music singer, opened the show for Swindell.

The Nashville resident has returned several times to the area to perform, but this performance was quite special for Gallagher.

“It’s really exciting,” he said prior to hitting the stage. “I’ve hung out with (Swindell) in Nashville a couple times. It’s kind of funny to hang out with him in Nashville and then to get to actually play a show with him from where I’m from.” 

Country musician Josh Gallagher performs as the opening act for Cole Swindell at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown o…

Gallagher received national attention in 2016 for becoming a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.” 

Gallagher has performed at the Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally, before a AAABA Tournament game at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point and prior to two Johnstown Tomahawks games at 1st Summit Arena.

The 28-year-old has been quite busy this month preparing for the upcoming release of his self-titled, six-song EP on Friday.

“We’ve just been busy promoting it,” Gallagher said. “We got some hard copies here as kind of like a pre-sale. We’re constantly working and working every day, and we’ve been rehearsing a lot for this show and our release party in Nashville on the 16th.

“It’s just feels good to know that we still have the love and we still have the support of everybody around here, he said. 

“We can’t do it without them.” 

Gallagher’s new EP, “Josh Gallagher,” will be available for purchase on his website – jgmusic.net – and also online on platforms such as iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music. 

Ronald Fisher is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @FisherSince_82.

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