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Pure Life to celebrate five years Saturday

Five years ago, Maggie McDonald was helping a LaGrange College student host open mic shows at an event center in downtown LaGrange.

Those shows have now evolved into Pure Life Studios hosting its fifth anniversary this weekend with a series of award-winning artists.

The sold-out show includes Grammy Award-winner John Berry; Georgia and Alabama Music Hall of Famer Jimmy Hall and Georgia and Alabama Music Hall of Famer Donna Hall. Other artists include Barry Waldrep, multi-instrumentalist for Zac Brown Band and Randy Travis;  award-winning singer/songwriter Kelli Johnson; and County Music Television award-winner Kurt Thomas.

The show starts at 7 p.m. at Pure Life Studios, but the doors open at 4:45 p.m. for VIP ticket holders. According to a news release, Beacon Brewery will be serving drinks and 505 Eats will service hors d’oeuvres before the show.

For general admission ticket holders, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and seating is first-come, first-serve. Those attending the concert can also bring their own drinks, according to Pure Life.

Pure Life Studios began when McDonald and Angela Hutchinson hosted shows in downtown LaGrange at a venue in the Hillside community. However, once the venue wanted to charge them to put on the open-mic type shows, they decided it was time to move.

McDonald already owned a holistic fitness and nutrition studio nearby, so they decided to move the shows over there.

During this time, Hutchinson graduated, and McDonald connected with Waldrep, who will play Saturday night, to book the first five shows at the venue. McDonald said these were artists with a name and not open-mic style shows.

Eventually, McDonald was trying to run two businesses in one venue. She was renting tables and chairs for a show on Friday night, tearing it down Saturday morning and hosting fitness classes on Saturday afternoon.

“It became too much,” McDonald said.

During the first year, she relied heavily on artists and others to help teach her the business.

“I spent the first year learning, stressing, and wondering, what in the world did I get myself into?” McDonald said. “I had never touched a soundboard, negotiated an artist contract, made an event on Facebook, or made a flyer, marketed, advertised, have an Instagram account, let alone run a website.”

She said soon she realized she could learn anything.

“I am social, I have a pretty good ear, I like being behind the scenes, and I can talk to a room full of people about something I 100 percent love,” she said in a news release. “I believe music to be medicine for the human spirit. It has changed my life and I am thankful for every single person who has stepped foot into my venue. They have all contributed in one way or another to this amazing experience.”

However, it doesn’t mean the first few months weren’t scary. Even the initial offer to host big shows at the venue was a frightening experience.

“When Barry offered to get me five artists, I was scared,” McDonald said. “My body wanted to say no, but I had to override it and say yes.”

Now, McDonald was to provide opportunities for local singers and songwriters to showcase their talents. Now only is Pure Life a venue for shows, but also a place for learning how to become an artist, learn the history of the music and pass down traditions through song. McDonald said she wants to have local singer/songwriter competitions, have a variety of shows and provide an outlet for those who want to make music.

“There are great musicians who didn’t get that big break who still need a place to play,” he said. “Because there are some really great ones here.”

While the celebration show on Saturday is sold out, tickets are available for Pure Life’s Sunday show. David Jacob Strain and Bob Beach will perform a mix of humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swing back to swampy rock and roll.

The doors open Sunday at 7 p.m. and music begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the concert are $15 and can be purchased at www.purelifelagrange.com.