Two of country music's most prominent East Tennessee natives and a globally recognized country-pop icon are among those coming together to aid in relief efforts following the wildfires that devastated Gatlinburg and the surrounding area last month. Following Dolly Parton's recent announcement of the My People Fund, the Sevier County-born legend unveiled plans for the "Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund" telethon. Airing December 13th on Great American Country (GAC) December 13th, the special will feature performances from Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss, Kenny Rogers, Chris Stapleton, Big & Rich, Chris Young and many more.
In addition, Lutrell, Tennessee's Kenny Chesney has teamed with the Country Music Association to help families rebuild their lives after the fires, which damaged or destroyed more than 2,400 homes and businesses and were responsible for 14 deaths. Chesney and the CMA will collectively contribute $500,000 for the cause ($250,000 each), with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for Parton's 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. Remaining funds from the CMA will be distributed where the need is the greatest.
"Growing up in East Tennessee, the only thing greater than the beauty of the region is the heart of the people who live there," Chesney said in a statement. "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."
Meanwhile, the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and their philanthropic ACM Lifting Lives organization have kicked off the fundraising with a $100,000 donation. Once she learned of the ACM's effort, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift – whose 50 Shades Darker soundtrack duet with Zayn, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" was released today – made a matching gift of $100,000 to the My People Fund.
Contributions to the My People Fund can be made at www.dollywoodfoundation.org. There is also a pre-application for homeowners or renters who lost their primary residence available at the website.
"Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund" airs Tuesday, December 13th at 8 p.m. on Great American Country. AXS TV, RFD and the Heartland Network have been added as broadcast partners and the telethon 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 more.