Kenny Chesney and CMA are combining resources to aid families devastated by recent wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The wildfires were responsible for 14 deaths and more than 2,400 homes and business that were damaged or destroyed.
A native of East Tennessee, Chesney has been a vocal and ardent supporter of the ongoing relief effort.
“Growing up in East Tennessee, the only thing greater than the beauty of the region is the heart of the people who live there,” said Chesney, a four-time CMA Entertainer of the Year. “It is devastating to think of what’s been lost in terms of the fire, but overwhelming for the families facing rebuilding their lives – in many cases – from scratch. I’m appreciative that CMA shares my hope that these families can feel our love at a time of such tragedy.”
“At CMA we feel such a strong connection to the residents of the area who have lost loved ones, as well as those that have lost personal property or income from businesses that are now closed,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Many of our artists and CMA members have close ties to the region as well; and we are grateful to Kenny for his leadership and honored to support him in the recovery efforts in East Tennessee.”
CMA and Chesney are collectively contributing $500,000 for the cause ($250,000 each). A portion of the proceeds will be earmarked for 2016 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Dolly Parton and her My People Fund, which provides $1,000 each month for up to six months to Sevier County families who lost their homes in the wildfires.
Parton, Big & Rich, Amy Grant, Chris Janson, Alison Krauss, LOCASH, Montgomery Gentry, Reba, Kenny Rogers, Michael W. Smith, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, and more will perform during “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” telethon airing Tuesday, Dec. 13 (8:00 PM/ET) on Great American Country. AXS TV, RFD, and the Heartland Network have been added as broadcast partners.
“Smoky Mountains Rise” also will be simulcast across multiple radio chains, including iHeart Media’s digital and select on-air platforms, Cumulus Media’s NASH Nights LIVE, TuneIn’s Country Roads channel and several other platforms. USA Today.com and USA Today National Network plans to live steam the telethon.
Remaining funds from CMA will be distributed where need is the greatest with the hopes of reaching as many impacted families and individuals as possible. Working with established local agencies in an attempt to identify those organizations that are providing valuable and necessary services.
“Our goal is to fulfill specific needs by working with organizations like Dolly’s My People Fund that have a clear mission and the structure to assist a wide-range of people by providing a broad range of resources,” said Trahern.