Atkins To Hold Benefit Concert - Cookeville Herald-Citizen

Atkins to hold benefit concert
Buddy Pearson
Herald-Citizen Managing Editor
Sunday, Aug 02, 2009

COOKEVILLE -- It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that country music star Rodney Atkins cares about people. Besides the connection he makes with people with his hit songs, Atkins also touches lives through his charity work. As the Rodney Atkins Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament wraps up today at the Cookeville Golf Club, which benefits the Upper Cumberland Development District programs for the elderly, disabled and families raising relative children, plans have been finalized for a concert to benefit more people in the community.

Atkins, along with special guest Phil Vassar, will be in concert on Thursday, Oct. 8, at Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center. The proceeds from the concert will go to Mustard Seed Ranch and TTU Athletics.

"We all know that a lot of times when concerts have come through town there, not a lot of folks have shown up. That's been a concern," Atkins told the Herald-Citizen. "We want to make sure that everyone understands that everything is invested back in the kids whether it's Mustard Seed Ranch or Tech athletics. It is something that will be reinvested back in the community."

A native of Baxter and a TTU alum, Atkins chose Mustard Seed Ranch and TTU athletics to be the beneficiary of his upcoming concert.

Mustard Seed Ranch is a non-denominational Christian Ministry which provides a loving home environment for children who are circumstantially disadvantaged by factors beyond their control and potentially in need of direction in four key areas: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. It has only been open for a short time.

"We are excited about it because Rodney can relate to what we are about and the kids we have out there," said Mustard Seed Ranch director Rex Buckner. "Being privately funded, it's huge to have him get on board with us. I'm excited to do this with Tech. I think it's a great fit for us."

With cuts to state budgets, Atkins' concert at the Hoop comes at a good time for TTU athletics.

"Any time we can have a boost to our financial resources is critical at this time," said TTU athletics director Mark Wilson. "As we try to hold our own during the economic downturn, we are very, very grateful that Rodney has selected us and Mustard Seed Ranch to be the beneficiaries of this concert.

"There is no hotter country music star than Rodney Atkins," continued Wilson. "With him being a Tennessee Tech alum and a local person, we are honored that he has selected the Eblen Center and Tennessee Tech for this concert."

Atkins rose to the top of the country music charts when four of his songs from his platinum-selling 2006 album "If You're Going Through Hell" went to No. 1. Atkins' new album "It's America" includes the hit single "15 Minutes." Winner of the Academy of Country Music's Top New Male Artist a couple of years ago, his star has continued to shine brighter and brighter among the country music elite.

"I really don't consider me a star," said the humble Atkins. "I've worked really hard and been given some opportunities to give back. It's not like it's some kind of overnight success. I've got a long way to go and I've come a long way."

The concert is being promoted by the Country Giant 94.7 FM and is being underwritten by Averitt Express.

"We have been a supporter of Mustard Seed Ranch and TTU over the years, and we felt it was the right fit and right opportunity to help give back as well," said Gina Billings, director of marketing and communications at Averitt Express. "We were delighted to see what Rodney was doing for the community and we wanted to help out."

For four years in a row now, Atkins has lent his name to the annual golf tournament presented by the Upper Cumberland Development District. This year's tournament was another success in the money raised for The Relative Caregiver Program, which provides support services to families who are raising relative children as well as the UCDD's program for the elderly and disabled, which is intended to coordinate volunteer assistance for elderly and disabled persons in need of services.

"The more people's lives these events touch, the more people can be involved," said Atkins. "That's the legacy I want to leave behind and teach my kids. If we keep investing and really truly think it's not up to someone else to take care of this stuff, it makes your day more satisfying."

Atkins says he wants the concert to be satisfying as well. With Vassar, whose hits include "Just Another Day in Paradise," "Six-Pack Summer," and "Last Day of My Life," Atkins believes the fans will be in for a treat on Oct. 8.

"Our shows keep growing and getting better and better," said Atkins.

"We are going to make it very, very special at the Hoop. We are going to make sure we can pack that place."

Tickets, which are $25 for the general public and $15 for TTU students, go on sale on Monday at the Eblen Center.


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