Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host a special benefit featuring internationally-acclaimed musical group The Black Lillies on Sunday, April 29 at 3 p.m. in the Goodloe Center.

The Black Lillies

The Black Lillies

Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased online at All proceeds from the event will benefit the Sue Ella Boatright-Wells Mountain Music School Memorial Scholarship. Backdraft Barbecue (food truck) will be available on campus for food purchases.

Sue Ella Boatright-Wells served as the Dean of Workforce Development for Mountain Empire Community College for 39 years. She touched hundreds of lives in her efforts to keep the culture and traditions of the Southwest Virginia region alive and growing, serving as a tireless advocate for workforce programs in Southwest Virginia. Sue Ella, who passed away in July of 2016, was the primary coordinator of the Home Craft Days Festival, was instrumental in the development of MECC’s Mountain Music School, and the Wise County and Scott County Jams afterschool program.

The scholarship, named in her honor, supports students who wish to attend the Mountain Music School one-week event held annually during the fourth week in July. Located in Big Stone Gap, Va., the school provides opportunities for students age 10 and up to experience traditional old-time music with fun and supportive instruction. Students may select an instrument and skill level of their choice, including beginning and advanced “old-time” fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp, and dog house bass. A limited number of instruments are available for loan for the week. In addition, those with intermediate and advanced skills can participate in an optional string-band class. Dance and sing along at daily concerts featuring some of the region’s most gifted old-time musicians. To learn more or to enroll, visit

With four albums under their belts, The Black Lillies have been a mainstay on radio and album sales charts, winning praise from outlets including American Songwriter, Rolling Stone, NPR, CMT, Wall Street Journal and Billboard.  With their blend of folk, soul, red dirt country, blue and rock, The Black Lillies have enthralled audiences at festivals including Bonnaroo Music + Arts, New Orleans Jazz Fest, MerleFest, Stagecoach, CMA Fest & Fan Fair, and Pickathon. Equally at home on theatre stages and in rock clubs, they were one of the first independent bands to play the Grand Ole Opry and have since returned dozens of times.

For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit