A day before hip-hop and R&B singer Chris Brown rolls into Columbus for a sold-out concert, children at the Boys & Girls Club of the Chattahoochee Valley were surprised Friday with visits from a professional football player, the promoter of today's concert at the Columbus Civic Center and some performers.
More than 200 children filled the gym at the 3200 Cusseta Road center to hear encouraging messages on how to become successful and give back to the community. Jamell Romeo, one of the promoters of the concert, handed out 200 free CDs of Brown's latest album "Royalty" to the children and five iPads for staffers at the center.
"It's really been a good, good turn out so we wanted to give back," Romeo said. "Our original plan was to do a cookout and give away bigger stuff but we didn't have the time."
Although this is Brown's first visit to Columbus, Romeo said that he is not surprised the event sold out 8,000 seats by Friday afternoon.
"He is a phenom," Romeo said of Brown. "Everybody loves him. He is the modern-day singer of our time, a Michael Jackson."
At the Civic Center, concertgoers can expect to hear plenty of Brown's old and new music in a stage production with more than 300 laser lights and 90-foot LED screens.
"The city has never seen something like this of this magnitude from an A-list artist coming to Columbus, Georgia," he said.
The youth had a chance to listen to 27-year-old Trey Wolfe, an Atlanta resident and cornerback for the Washington Redskins. In his second year with the team, Wolfe encouraged the children to focus on academics, something you'll hear all the time.
"You can't advance without those," he said. "Stay in school and make good grades."
Children also heard a sample of music from the all women's group, Levi Johnson from Atlanta.
Brandon Williams, unit director at the center, said special guests are invited to speak to children and encourage them.
"We always have mentors to come out to the Boys & Girls Club to inspire our kids," he said.
The visits give people a chance to reach out to the community where it all began for many.
"Different people have gone on to be successful," Williams said. "It's great to come back to be successful."