AJ Swope Performance Plaza to be dedicated this Friday

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 11:05 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - A musical tribute to the late musician and business leader AJ Swope will christen the stage at the new AJ Swope Performance Plaza at Arts in the Sunset on Friday, Sept 15.

The recently finished venue is located on Plains Boulevard near Western Street and has been constructed by Arts in the Sunset in partnership with the nonprofit Friends of AJ Swope within the framework of the historic Sunset Center shopping mall. According to a news release, this is the newest addition to Amarillo’s thriving Cultural District.

A public performance by Zac Wilkerson will begin at 7 p.m.

Wilkerson, a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter formerly of Amarillo, is known for his powerful vocals and driving guitar style. Wilkerson, whose musical career was gaining momentum at the same time as Swope, was a close friend of Swope and is providing the show free of charge to honor his friend.

Craig Vaughn, a member of the Friends of AJ Swope board of directors, noted that there have been other tributes to Swope since his passing in 2013, including the naming of an electric substation in Swope’s memory, but a musical venue is an ideal way to celebrate Swope’s love of music and Amarillo’s music community, where he is fondly remembered as an encourager and tireless supporter.

“AJ was always open to talking to and helping out the next artist trying to make a name for himself.” Vaughn says, “Having a stage on which Amarillo’s up-and-coming artists can hone their craft in front of a live audience is a very important piece of their careers. AJ truly cared about Amarillo’s local and live music scene and this stage will guarantee that his passion for it will live on.”

Rachel Flores, executive director of Arts in the Sunset, says, “The Arts in the Sunset staff and board are humbled and honored to be able to memorialize AJ Swope in this way. AJ was a man with extraordinary talents and a fierce love for his community, and we hope that by bearing his name, the Plaza too will come to know and share the extraordinary.”

According to the release, the plaza features a large stage with an attached green room, three dressing rooms, restrooms, a large area for tables, chairs and a dance floor, a ticket booth, and a built-in bar for third-party vendors to utilize. The venue can also be used for weddings, fundraisers and other outdoor events.

Friends of AJ Swope, which will continue contributing to the ongoing success of the AJ Swope Performance Plaza, is now engaged in fundraising efforts to construct the Texas Panhandle First Responders Memorial in downtown Amarillo. More information and a secure payment portal for public donations can be found at friendsofajswope.org.