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Monett grad centerstage at Bon Jovi concert

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

During the performance of "Living on a Prayer" at the Bon Jovi concert in Tulsa, videos submitted by fans were shown on the screen behind the stage. Kristi Hayes' winning videi is see at upper left, where Hayes sings in front of two hay bales, next to live footage of Tico Torres, the dummer for Bon Jovi.
"I got to rock out on stage with Bon Jovi!"

That's the reaction of Kristi Hayes, a 2006 Monett High School graduate and Missouri Southern State University student who recently won a rock video contest that earned her free tickets and a moment in the spotlight at a recent Bon Jovi concert in Tulsa, Okla.

Hayes and her friends planned to go to the concert before discovering the invitation inviting participation in Bon Jovi's tour on the band's web site. An open invitation was extended to create a video to selections on the "Living on a Prayer" song list. One video is picked as the winner from entries received for each concert, and the prize is free tickets.

"I didn't have friends who were crazy enough to do it with me, so I decided to do it myself," Hayes said.

Directions for the video encouraged videographers to use their scene settings to reflect as much about their personality and background as possible.

"I grew up in Monett," Hayes said. "I wanted to show my small town personality. I used the Wormington Farms and Jolly Mill for settings. I stood in front of hay bales, out in a tree stand, on the bridge at Jolly Mill, by the old church there. I even recorded me on the mini-truck at Wormington Farms. I was feeding a baby calf at one point. All of it was very small town country."

Hayes picked "Living on a Prayer" as the video's song and recorded herself lip synching the entire song. Her friends helped her with the filming over two days. Then, interspersing scenes from each location as the song progressed, Hayes spent two days editing the video together with the help of Kris Livingston, her professor in the video department at Missouri Southern.

The finished video was uploaded on the Internet link and a confirmation received that the video arrived. Then the wait began.

Three days before Bon Jovi's April 3 concert, Hayes went to work on a Sunday at Olive Garden in Joplin, certain she had lost since she had no word. Yet later in the shift Hayes found a missed call note on her phone with the message that she had won.

"I started jumping and screaming," Hayes recalled. "My cousin Teresa works there too. I chased her around the restaurant to tell her, then we were both jumping up and down. They told me my video would play on stage with Bon Jovi."

The prize package included two free tickets, so Hayes had to find two more people to go. Once the group reached the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa for the concert, the box office staff directed Hayes and her special guest, her boyfriend, Mark Chapman, to proceed to the VIP room. The others in the group headed for their seats in the upper section.

"We got to go down to the bottom level of the BOK Center," Hayes said. "The VIP room was awesome. They had Bon Jovi stuff everywhere----cutouts, guitars, even Bon Jovi slot machines. We were offered steak, chocolate-covered strawberries and mashed potatoes served in martini glasses. We called them 'mash teenies,' definitely the rock star lifestyle."

The band did not visit the VIP room, which was the only disappointment of the night. When concert time approached, Hayes and her boyfriend were ushered to seats very close to the stage.

For two hours the band performed, then came back for another half hour of encores. Soon the band got to "Living on a Prayer."

"There were butterflies in my stomach," Hayes said. "It was awesome."

As the band played, videos were shown on the large wall behind them, intermixed with large projections of the actual performance. On the largest single section of the collage Hayes' video was shown as the band performed.

"I was so excited." Hayes said. "My friends said they could see it was me from where they sat in the nosebleed section. They were honestly just as excited for me."

When the concert concluded, the group went out to dinner. They spent the rest of the night and the trip home talking about the experience.

"I never made a video before," Hayes said. "It was something fun and different to do. I love a challenge."

A communications and public relations major who will graduate in July, Hayes said she still has all of her career paths open. She especially enjoyed the production aspect of making a video, being both director and star.

"A small town girl from Monett got to rock on stage with Bon Jovi, adrenaline rushing and everything," Hayes said.

Hayes is the daughter of Ralph and Marlene Hayes, of Monett. Her grandparents are Ed and Sally Welters, of Verona, and Ed and Juanita Hayes, of Neosho.

Hayes' video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pKdBDgpT...

"Everyone from a small town will really appreciate it," Hayes added.

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