NORMAN — With eight children scattered from coast to coast, Elizabeth “Betty” Sullivan never knows how many of them will make it home for the holidays.
More important, she never knows which of them will arrive in time for the Sullivan Family Concert, a benefit the singing members of the family perform each year at Christmastime to benefit the Women's Resource Center.
That's not quite true, Sullivan said. “I can count on two of them always to be here.”
Sons Tim and Pat have never missed a show in the 19 years the family has been staging the concert.
Tim Sullivan, of Durango, Colo., is a professional performer who sings on stage more than 200 nights a year. But he reserves the date of the family concert no matter what other offers to perform may come his way.
“Tim would walk 100 miles to be here, I do believe,” his mother said.
The guitar-strumming, self-proclaimed “cowboy” singer/songwriter will be one of the stars of this year's show, set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Catlett Music Center, 500 W Boyd St.
The concert is free, but donations to the Women's Resource Center are encouraged.
Tim Sullivan will be joined by his mother, a singer/songwriter in her own right, and brother Pat, who earns his living as a physician in Vian but sings out of a love of music.
This year's concert is the 19th annual performance by the “singing Sullivans,” a group that also includes, depending on who can make it that year, KT Sullivan, a renowned cabaret singer in New York; Stacy Sullivan, a songwriter/singer from the West Coast who recently moved to New York to perform; Heather Sullivan, a professional singer/songwriter from the West Coast; and professional singer and actress Robin Brooks Sullivan, of Blanchard, who is married to Betty's youngest son, Sean.
This year, KT will be performing in China; Stacy has a gig in New York City, and Heather is the headliner act on a cruise ship. The three will not make it home for the holidays.
“You know, when you're a performer, you go where the work is. You've got to earn a living,” Betty Sullivan said.
But Betty said this year's concert will be “as grand as ever,” and the family will be joined by New York City entertainer and longtime family friend Mark Nadler.
Nadler, who has won numerous accolades as an entertainer in New York, will bring classical musician Dominic Meinan, also of New York, to perform with him.
Tim Sullivan will reprise songs he performed at the cabaret convention in New York in October, where he was asked to fill in when a performer canceled at the last minute.
“He wowed them. He simply wowed them,” his mother said.
New York City reviewer Stephen Holden called the last-minute replacement “a piece of luck” for the audience.
Tim Sullivan was 6 when he began performing with his brothers and sisters. As a teenager, he formed his first country band, which was named one of the 10 best bands in America in a national “Battle of the Bands” star search competition.
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, which he attended on a baseball scholarship, Tim Sullivan has appeared on stage with such country stars as Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Glen Campbell and Tammy Wynette.
He won songwriter of the year in Massachusetts for “Dance in the Rain” and wrote the theme song for the 2003 Boston Red Sox, “Cowboy Up.”
“Tim is happiest when he has his guitar in hand and is heading out the door to perform,” Betty Sullivan said.
Another addition to this year's show will be Blythe Sullivan, the 7-year-old granddaughter of Pat Sullivan, whom Betty describes as “an up-and-coming singing sensation.”
The concert is the largest fundraiser for the Women's Resource Center, which operates the battered women's shelter and the Rape Crisis Center.