It was a packed house at Rogers Place Friday night as the new downtown arena hosted its first official concert.
Country music superstar Keith Urban hit the stage to the awe of nearly 20,000 fans. But he wasn’t the only one to take the stage. The concert ended up being an unforgettable experience for a pair of local sisters.
Hailey Benedict, 14, and her 12-year-old sister, Makenna, came to the concert in hopes of getting on stage with the country legend. The St. Albert girls heard Urban had a reputation for bringing people from the audience up on stage, so they made bright, flashy guitar signs – one with the words “Keith Urban 2016” written on it and the other with the word “Ripcord,” the name of Urban’s latest album.
“We had put them up and he saw them and he’s like, ‘Can we get those up on stage?’ And me and my sister, Makenna, we just freaked out and yeah, he brought us up on stage,” Hailey said.
“We got up there and he held our hand and gave us a hug and asked us a few questions,” the 14-year-old continued. “And then he asked us, ‘What do you want to be when you’re older?’ And I said, ‘A singer/songwriter.’ And he put his hand up and said, ‘YES!’ And the whole crowd, it was just a huge roar.”
Watch below: Hailey Benedict performs on stage with Keith Urban and her sister, Makenna, by her side.
At 14, Hailey already has an impressive resume. She’s a rising star on the Canadian music scene, having won dozens of accolades. So when Urban asked her if she plays, he got the girl a guitar and she performed an original song in front of the thousands of fans at Rogers Place.
“It was just so surreal. That’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was little and so to see that dream come true, it was so surreal,” she said.
“I never in my wildest dreams would have thought it would have happened. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and it’s definitely at the top of my list.”
Makenna was also blown away by the entire experience.
“It was really crazy just to see everybody out there and me being up on the stage and my sister being up with me is really cool,” she said Saturday afternoon.
“It was definitely something that will never be forgotten… I loved it.”
Watch below: Hailey and Makenna Benedict share their experiences of being pulled up on stage by Keith Urban
Because of everything she’s accomplished in her young career, Hailey was featured as a Global Edmonton Woman of Vision this past June.
Watch below: At 14, Hailey Benedict is a multi-talented singer/songwriter who has starred in musical theatre and opened for well-known musicians. Now, she’s off to Nashville. Lesley MacDonald has her story.
Ahead of the show, Urban took to his social media accounts to share his thoughts on the new arena.
“Look at this joint. It is amazing. Absolutely off the charts awesome cool. It’s beautiful,” he said. “This is going to be so frickin’ fun.”
While reviews of the show were glowing, there was some criticism of the facility. Some fans leaving the concert Friday night said Rogers Place had a few kinks to work out, including long beer lines.
Watch below: The first official concert was held at Rogers Place Friday night. Country music superstar Keith Urban hit the stage in front of nearly 20,000 fans. So what did fans think of the concert and the new facility?
The arena will be put to the test again Saturday night when another country music legend, Dolly Parton, hits the stage.
Watch below: Tom Vernon speaks with Hailey Benedict about her whirlwind experience on the Sunday morning news