Love Everybody – The Story of Big Kenny’s famous two words.
“Love Everybody is my personal motto and our family crest!”
– William “Big Kenny” Alphin
“Around the year 2000 I had a vision that my world would be expanding and I would be a voice in front of a lot of people. The dream was so vivid. Just two simple words that would be my motto. I knew I had to do what ever I could to spread the message as I traveled and toured around the world. I put “Love Everybody” on my guitars my jewelry and my cloths, stickers, patches, anywhere I could just to spread those two words.”
“I know every time I see the words and every time others see the words, it reminds us how simple it is to make things better everywhere. I dream it will be plastered on billboards from country roads to Time Square to cities and villages around the world. The message is the most powerful I know. “
“I tell people Bono says 'ONE', Bob Marley says 'One Love', and this country boy says it as simply as he can: “Love Everybody!”
"I hope to leave this as my legacy for all to carry the banner forward.”
Our message is simple and everyone can help.
LOVE EVERYBODY and spread the word.
“Highlight the good, inspire greatness, and encourage mutual responsibility
for the betterment of Humankind.”
As Big Kenny's career has progressed it has allowed him to provide aid and raise awareness for causes he believes in. From emergencies like the Haiti Earthquake, to building schools and feeding hungry children, friends and fans have always asked us how they can help.
Thus, the Love Everybody Foundation was born. Working in junction with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, our non-profit platform accepts donations from those who wish to be a part of what we do. 100% of all donations go to those in need.
“Highlight the good, inspire greatness & encourage
mutual responsibility for the betterment of humankind.”
Mission: Raise money to help build the memorial
National Infantry Museum a Fort Benning, GA
"These guys have put their lives on the line, and over 1700 members of the 173rd have lost their lives serving this country. When we heard that they expected it to take 3 - 5 years of a capital fundraising campaign to build the memorial we decided we had to find a way to raise the money in one day. We're just glad we are in a position to help these guys out." - Big Kenny.
The memorial to the 173rd Airborne had been in discussion for decades, and now a design had been approved and a location chosen: The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, GA.
Big & Rich performed "8th of November," which was inspired by a soldier in the 173rd Airborne. When legendary rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd heard about the proposed event, they decided to join forces with Big & Rich.
In July 2008 the 173rd Airborne Brigade Memorial Foundation broke ground at the National Infantry Museum.
A dedication ceremony was held at Patriot Park on June 1, 2010.
President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts
Mission: Accept the President's Award for Excellence
July 16, 2007 Springfeild, Illinois, Big Kenny & John Rich were honored at the Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Convention. On July 18th The Duo received the President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for their emotional hit single "8th Of November", a song which was inspired by a battle U.S. troops fought in Vietnam in 1965.
The song tells the story of the duo’s close friend, Niles Harris, a Purple Heart recipient and member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. As a 19-year-old army private, he was shot in a jungle fire fight during the Vietnam War on November 8, 1965. In 2002, Big Kenny and Rich befriended Harris when they visited his hometown of Deadwood, South Dakota. The friendship endured and they wrote the song to honor his legacy. September 2005 Big Kenny and John Rich accompanied Harris on a trip to Vietnam to try to make sense of the battle that took his comrades' lives on that fall day in 1965. A documentary of the experience began airing in July 2006.
Big & Rich have worked selflessly to support Vietnam veterans. In October 2006, along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, they performed a benefit concert in Atlanta, Georgia, raising $500,000 in one day. All profits went to the building fund for the 173rd Airborne Brigade National Memorial, in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Big Kenny commented “To receive an award of this caliber, it has never crossed our minds. It’s a wonderful surprise and to have Niles, the man who inspired this song here, brings everything full circle.” Previous recipients of VVA's President's Award for Excellence in the Arts include: Kris Kristofferson, Bob Hope, George Jones and Raquel Welch.
In 2007, Kenny was deeply moved by the genoicide that was occurring in Sudan's Darfur region. He joined artists such as U2, Green Day, R.E.M, and Aerosmith to create the Instant Karma Benefit CD for Amnesty International, which raised over 5 million dollars. A strong believer in sustainability, Kenny helped fund the building of the Kunyuk School for Girls in Akon, Sudan.
October of 2007, Big Kenny and his wife, along with friends from the organization My Sister's Keeper located in Boston, Dr. David Marks and Walt Ratterman from Sun Energy Power decided they were going to get together and go into the country of Sudan. They visited the village of Akon; a refugee camp right in southern Sudan, about 50 kilometers from the line of demarcation between there and Darfur.
In addition to bringing medical supplies, they brought school supplies, musical instruments and clothing to the 250 students at the Kunyuk School for Girls. The school was currently holding classes under a large baobab tree. “At the same time, you know, we got to do what I call 'due diligence'. I went in to make sure that the people that I had met and had organized with on the ground were really doing what they told me".
“The group traveled to war-torn Southern Sudan on humanitarian missions. Kenny a former contractor and Farmer from Culpeper, VA helped begin the process of building a girls' school" This is an area that people have fled into, that had been pushed off their land. Like farmers. My dad's a farmer, and I guess that's why it hits with me."
Kenny donated the royalties he received from writing the Tim McGraw hit, "Last Dollar (Fly Away)," to My Sister's Keeper; a charity assisting and protecting women in Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of people have died from violence, malnutrition and disease as a result of the Sudanese government militia's campaign against rebels in Darfur.
The Alphin's undertook the financial cost of the entire trip and chartered a cargo plane to transport 25 crates of supplies to Sudan. “In addition we picked up 300 refugee survival kits. These are people who have been burned out of their homes, and this is enough to keep them alive for a little while until they can get somewhere or get to a village and get their feet back under them.” Kenny stated.
"Whether they are abused across the street or across an ocean, all people deserve freedom and basic human rights, I would spend every nickel I could get my hands on to help these people. It is the worst humanitarian crisis on our earth, and it is time we did something to stop it."
Big Kenny documented his first journey in 2007 on film, “ Bearing Light” and since debuting it at the Nashville Film Festival in 2008, has utilized the film to spread awareness of the cause. In recognition of his efforts, the Save Darfur Coalition named Kenny their December 2008 “Darfur Hero”.
Love Everybody has helped with the facilitation of the Kunyuk School for Girls in Akon, Sudan. The school currently has 550+ students enrolled. Love Everybody's goal is to instill hope, strength, and excellence to all students who attend so they can prosper in life. Their motto: "Highlight the good, inspire greatness, and encourage mutual responsibility for the betterment of humankind. -- Love Everybody." Member of the Tennessee Global Health Coalition.
The Save Darfur Coalition today named Grammy Award-nominee Big Kenny (Kenny Alphin) it’s December "Darfur Hero." The program highlights individuals who are playing a crucial role in helping end the violence in Darfur.
Big Kenny has been an outspoken advocate for the people of Darfur since early 2006 when he met former Marine Captain Brian Steidle who served as an African Union observer for their mission in Darfur. Since then he has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur - speaking about the situation at all of his concerts and in all of his public appearances and interviews.
"No matter where I am, I take advantage of every opportunity to raise awareness of the crisis in Darfur and demand action," said Big Kenny in his blog posting on the Save Darfur website. "I would spend every nickel I could get my hands on to help these people. Darfur is the worst humanitarian crisis on our earth and it is time we did something to stop it - permanently."
In April 2006, Big & Rich spoke and performed before an estimated 50,000 people at the "Save Darfur: Rally to Stop Genocide" on the National Mall in Washington. In New York's Central Park, in September 2007 they performed at “Voices to Stop Genocide” rally. Additionally, in October 2007, Big Kenny traveled with his wife, Christiev, to Akon, Sudan. The couple delivered clothing, medical and school supplies, and musical instruments to the Kunyuk School for Girls.
"If these were our children in our neighborhoods, there is no way on earth we would tolerate such blatant abuses of humanity," he added. "One by one we'll grow into a voice that cannot be ignored."
NASHVILLE 4 AFRICA
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
When country artist Big Kenny Alphin & Wife Christiev took a trip to Sudan Africa in 2007, he could have never imagined in 2009 there would be a benefit concert with the African Children's Choir. Some of Nashville's biggest names came to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to help kids a world away. The music they played helped support The African Children’s Choir, as well as build more schools for their organization in Africa.
A vision brought together and hosted by Big Kenny, the sold out musical event also included performances by Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley, Brad Arnold (3 Doors Down), Jars of Clay and many others.
Mountaintop coal removal in Appalachia
Since Big Kenny’s awareness of Darfur in 2005, he made his first trip to Southern Sudan in 2007. The region went from war, to children being bought out of slavery and then educated under a tree. Accompanied by members of My Sister's Keeper, a non-profit organization focused on assisting, protecting and advocating for the women of southern Sudan, with hopes of shining a light 45km south of the war zone in Darfur.
Kenny and Christiev Alphin, returned to Akon, Sudan in 2009 with three planes carrying teachers and doctors, as well as school supplies and pharmaceuticals to help combat their Cholera epidemic. Just 18 months after their first trip, Kenny and his team finished building the Kunyuk School for Girls which now enrolls over 550 registered girls, given them their first chance at an education. “When we went back (2009), right where I saw people take those refugee kits and start to establish themselves. There's a doctor's clinic over here. There's a runway right here, which was previously a dirt road. And right in between them there's now a little village that exists, when there was nothing when we went there the first time.”
In June of 2009, the school was officially open and dedicated to the village. There are now 4 school buildings with teachers, a working health clinic with doctors and an entire community that has taken the responsibility for the school. As government officials attended the dedication ceremony, they noted that this was the first “cement” structure built just for educating girls in that region. Big Kenny stated, “By giving them a hand up, it’s given them a bigger heart that they can do it; that all children can be educated. They understand that these girls could become the next great leaders of their country, It’s been a great inspiration for that community” In recognition of his efforts, the Save Darfur Coalition named Big Kenny their December 2008 “Darfur Hero.”
In 2009, Big Kenny wrote a new anthem, "Heart of Africa", with artist friend Damien Horne. "Heart Of Africa," a dynamic song celebrating the continent's first ever World Cup, debuted at a special concert in Nairobi July 9, 2009 which benefited the UN World Food Programme. "Big Kenny was an excellent choice to write this song and perform as he is regarded as a true humanitarian, as his previous work in the Sudan and Uganda bear testament." said Dr. Bonnie Dunbar , owner of the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden of "Out Of Africa" fame. "Big Kenny underscores the diverse nature of everyone who finds a home in the heart of Africa."
Kenny spent two days visiting food and school programs in Mathare and Kibera Slums with World Food Programme in Nairobi. “Kenny’s performances were accompanied by the Mathare Community Outreach school children, the Shangilia children, and the song a dance of the Maasai Warriors.”
Because of his ongoing commitment to children in need (particularly in Africa), Big Kenny wanted to see the UN World Food Program in action. To fully understand the importance of the WFP school meals program, the singer/songwriter rolled up his sleeves and helped feed children at the Mathare Community Outreach School in Nairobi.
“We’re gratified he took the time to come to Nairobi to support our work.” said Rose Ogola, WFP Public Information Officer in Kenya. We’re grateful that Big Kenny helped raise awareness for our school meals programs, which assist the most vulnerable among us: our children.
"Big Kenny was an inspired choice to write “Heart Of Africa,” said event Executive Producer David Clark, CEO of David Clark Cause, and co-creator of President Mandela’s “46664” initiative. “He is probably the only American country music star who actively promotes causes in Africa; his recent work in Sudan to help build the Kunyuk Girls School and support for the Children’s choir from Uganda are proof enough. This song Big Kenny has created is a true anthem that all Africans can be proud of.”
Monday the 11th of January, 2010 Big Kenny received an e-mail from Walt Ratterman a Washington-based specialist in renewable energy who travels all over the world — including with the Alphins to Sudan — providing the technology to war-torn countries and impoverished nations. On the day of the earthquake, he was in a meeting with USAID at Hotel Montana in Port au Prince.
On January 20th, eight days after the quake, Kenny was in Haiti to look for Ratterman himself. Alphin and a crew of five, including his brother, Christian, flew from Nashville to Miami and then to the Dominican Republic. They rented a van, with a bus full of doctors, driving all evening and into the night. They slept a few hours on the floor of a warehouse, and in the morning the bus took them to the Haitian border. A doctor managed to find the group a ride in a pair of Dominican ambulances headed into Port au Prince to pick up the injured. They dropped Kenny and his crew at the entrance to the Chinese embassy. Eventually a Haitian embassy driver agreed to transport Kenny and his team to the hotel.
“They piled all of our stuff in these cars and drove us through the city of collapse,” Alphin said. "I’ve got nothing in my lifetime to compare what it looked like. Maybe Hiroshima. There was rubble everywhere.”
At The Hotel Montana, Kenny saw a man in a Fairfax County vest. Kenny, a Virginia native, knew that meant Virginia Task Force 1, one of the premier search-and-recovery teams in the U.S. They’re deployed everywhere, from my backyard in Virginia. Approaching one of them, I said, ‘Dude, Fairfax County Virginia?’ He looks at me and goes, ‘Big Kenny?’ [laughs] He had this look on his face of just amazing awe. I said, ‘Culpeper, Virginia!’ He said, ‘We’re brothers!’ He wanted to know why I was there, so I told him I was there to help and to find my buddy. They immediately took me around the whole site, which was acres." Kenny and his team slept that night on mats in what used to be the hotel parking lot.
Kenny received a email through a radio station in the U.S. regarding a nursing home in Port-au-Prince needing food…”I went down there and loaded up these vehicles with everything from 50lbs bags of rice and beans and cooking oil and fruit … just everything we could pile in there that could sustain them as long as I could until somebody else could get to them. We hauled it back there, set it up, piled it up right there in the middle of the old ladies … got down on my knees and sang them ‘Amazing Grace.’"
Compassion International “Help Haiti Live”
Big Kenny hosted The Compassion International’s “Help Haiti Live” fundraising concert. Held February 27, 2010 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. Kenny Alphin’s attention turned to Haiti after the country’s devastating earthquake. He immediately went to Haiti to help search for a friend (Walt Ratterman) who had gone missing after the disaster, and did not survive. Big Kenny returned to the country to entertain and support U.S. troops and others working there in the rebuilding effort.
The Compassion International concert took place simultaneously in Los Angeles. Big Kenny not only hosted the event, he performed along with Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Jars of Clay, Mat Kearney, NEEDTOBREATHE, Brandon Heath, Dave Barnes, and Matt Wertz.
Valley of Eden, Alberta, CA
It was a moment the singer-songwriter and humanitarian says he'll never forget. Big Kenny - his face painted yellow and red -- proudly donned a majestic native headdress with black-tipped feathers that pointed to the sun as he was officially accepted into the Blackfoot First Nation Tribe at their annual Pow Wow 2010.
A friend suggested he contact Canada's Blackfoot Confederacy to add the Native American tribal chanting that kicks off his song “Wake Up” on Big Kenny’s solo project “The Quiet Times of a Rock and Roll Farmboy” record. So Kenny emailed them the track. By Thursday they had added their part, and invited Kenny to the Valley of Eden, four hours north of Calgary. Kenny arrived on Friday night, and on Saturday they made a vibrant music video featuring panoramic crane shots — wilderness as far as the eye can see — and over 50 tribe members. “One of whom," Kenny points out, "had driven through the night all the way from New Mexico."
"This experience meant so such to them," Kenny says. "They were thrilled to be involved." Kenny still chokes up when he remembers the day, which was documented in a video for his song "Wake Up”.
Afterwards, Colorfully adorned men, women and children of four Blackfoot Nation tribes came together to sing sacred powwow songs, recite prayers and dance for ancient spirits in a sacred ritual to make Big Kenny one of their own. Within hours, the first snowfall came to the valley, just outside the southern Alberta town of Longview, as if summoned by the ceremony.
At the end of the ceremony, the country rocker was anointed with his Blood name, Miistakiis Skomaatii (translation: Mountain Boy). The tribe then prayed over him for about two hours. Hoping to bring awareness to Native tribes and spotlight the beauty of their culture, Big Kenny joined the Blackfoot Confederacy Drum Group to collaborate on their album, 'Wake Up.' The drum group chants the title phrase 'Wake Up' on the song of the same name.
Big Kenny TEDx-Nashville
400 people gathered on Sunday, March 21, 2010 at the sold-out inaugural TEDxNashville event, themed “Art + Science: Big Kenny’s theme was to live with “No Fear”– “The ultimate Great War for the battle in the mind is to overcome fear which steals our dreams and allows us to accept suffering like that in Darfur.” "Don’t ever be afraid to tell a kid they can make a living with their art.”
Big Kenny, who is seeding various humanitarian efforts in stricken areas like the Darfur region of Sudan and Haiti, spoke about how his philosophy and experiences drives his efforts to promote health-related projects all over the world. "My mission is to highlight the good, inspire greatness, and encourage mutual responsibility for the betterment of humankind,” says Big Kenny. “I think TEDxNashville is a great place to spread those ideas and I’m excited about being a part of it.” The latest breakthroughs in health and wellness, including the influence of successful artists like Big Kenny and how their popularity can be leveraged to increase awareness of issues that impact the well-being of everyone, will be presented.
East Tennessee State University
Big Kenny established a scholarship to the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). This donation supported the creation of the “The Alphin Scholarship to Promote the Integration of Research and Environmental Education in Appalachia” (ASPIRE Appalachia). ASPIRE Appalachia’s primary goal is to provide two students at the College of Public Health the opportunity to complete their required field placement by working in an Appalachian community. Focusing their field placement on issues such as clean water; the impact of environmental factors on human health.
"Big Kenny has made a name for himself in the music world, but what's even more impressive is his world view and desire to help others," said Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the College of Public Health ETSU .
Kenny presented his inaugural ASPIRE scholarships on Thursday, March 18th, 2010. Awarding Jodi Southerland and Jenny Hunt. For the second year, on June 16th, 2011 Big Kenny and Dr. Bill Frist’s working with Dean Randy Wykoff of ETSU selected Ms. Karie Castle and Ms. Katie Baker.
The students will focus their field placement on issues such as clean water; the impact of environmental factors on human health; storytelling or music as a vehicle for communicating health messages; understanding the social determinants that impact health in Appalachia; the inter-relationship of education and health, role of charitable programs on health outcomes; or other Appalachia-specific health or environmental topics. The purposes of these placements are consistent with Big Kenny and HTHH's shared altruistic vision of supporting people in the context of who they are and where they live.
In March 2010 William Kenneth Kenny Alphin was conferred the status of “Humanitarian Scholar by the College of Public Health East Tennessee State University.
Operation Finally Home
Big Kenny made an extreme entrance by skydiving into a Nashville show on September 2nd, 2011. Thirty-thousand feet above, a plane circled, and finally, Big and Rich’s Big Kenny took his leap onto the field below with five other representatives of Operation Finally Home, an organization that honors wounded and disabled veterans and widows of fallen soldiers with new homes.
100% of their proceeds from their September 2nd, 2011 show at The Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel went to Operation Finally Home, a 501(c)3 organization that honors wounded and disabled veterans and widows of fallen soldiers with new homes. "This is a wonderful organization I've worked with for years. They have a very simple but very important cause," said Big Kenny, who first approached his touring partners about the idea.
"Building a home is noble, but constructing a home tailored to the needs of a specific injury or disability is one of the things Operation Finally Home really understands and has done well time and again. I'm willing to jump out of a perfectly good plane to raise awareness of the great needs of so many of our returning soldiers!"
Kenny showed his support for the organization and the Meadows family again when he kicked off the ground-breaking ceremony by singing the national anthem after the presentation of the colors by the Tennessee National Guard honor guard.
As of May 24th, 2012, Shawn Meadows, disabled veteran from Linville, TN, and his family are in a new home with the help of country artist Big Kenny from the duo Big and Rich. Shaun Meadows lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan nearly four years ago. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs. Shaun also recently got the opportunity to skydive, making him the first active duty double amputee to skydive in Air Force history.
AFRICAN CHILDREN'S CHOIR
Mission: Accept the African Children's Choir Malaika Award
4th Annual Benefit Gala
December 3, 2012 "Big Kenny" Alphin, one-half of hit-making duo Big & Rich, became the second U.S. recipient of the African Children’s Choir Malaika Award during a special ceremony. The award was presented to the singer-songwriter for his endless hours of work in Sudan over the past several years. His efforts were rewarded on Monday, December 3, 2012 during the 4th annual Benefit Gala. The Goodwill Award is considered the most prestigious form of recognition from the ACC, and is presented only to those who dedicate their time and heart by working on behalf of Africa’s most vulnerable children.
The troop-supporting Alphin was chosen to receive the honor in recognition of his work in the Sudan. The African Children’s Choir presented the Malaika Award to Alphin during its 4th Annual Benefit Gala in New York City on Dec. 3, 2012. To date, five individuals have been presented with the Malaika Award including Rt. Hon Gordon Brown MP, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; President George Bush for his approval of legislation combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa, and most recently, to Sir Bob Geldorf.
The African Children’s Choir is made up of children from the poorest countries of the world that have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. Since its 1984 inception, more than 52,000 children have been educated through the efforts of the choir’s programs and 100,000-plus people have been helped through their relief and development programs throughout the seven countries the organization serves.
The lovely people we have the pleasure to work and grow with as human beings.
Operation Finally Home
New Braunfels, Texas
Operation FINALLY HOME was founded in 2005 as a non-partisan/non-profit organization with the mission to provide Americans the ability to honor and thank America’s wounded and disabled veterans and the widows of the fallen who have sacrificed to defend our country in the global War on Terror. Severely wounded and disabled service members return home to confront extreme hardships, from physical and emotional disabilities to financial ruin, joblessness and homelessness. Dismayed by their plight, Operation FINALLY HOME addresses the most pressing need of our returning heroes -- a home to call their own!
My Sister's Keeper
Hope Through Healing Hands is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 whose mission is to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace. Through the prism of health diplomacy, we envision a world where all individuals and families can obtain access to health care information, services, and support for the opportunity at a fuller life. Specifically, we seek sustainability through health care service and training.
Armed Forces Entertainment
As the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel overseas, Armed Forces Entertainment and its performers have the honor of supporting soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors by bringing them the very best in American entertainment.
Around the country and across the globe, the Save Darfur Coalition is inspiring action, raising awareness and speaking truth to power on behalf of the people of Darfur. Working with world leaders, we are demanding an end to the genocide, and our efforts are getting results.
The key to our success is the millions of everyday citizens who have joined our movement. With you and other committed activists by our side, we will end the genocide.
Little Kids Rock
When it comes to making sure every kid gets a first-rate education, music matters. Little Kids Rock believes that learning to play a musical instrument can be a transformative experience in students’ lives, with the power to inspire the creativity and confidence that are critical to success in school and in life.
That’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves to restoring and revitalizing music education in U.S. public schools. We bring free music instruction and instruments to under-served schools across the country. See how it works!