Feeding America

Country Music’s Sara Evans Talks About Giving Back at the 2012 CMT Music Awards

June 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm , by

One could say there’s a lot of buzz around this year’s CMT One Country spokesperson. Just as Sara Evans is about to start a chat with me about her role with the country music station’s volunteer initiative, she’s stung by a bee. “It’s good,” Evans casually assures me, barely missing a beat. “It’s a little swollen but I’m fine. I’m gonna live.” Her stoic resilience really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, this is the singer of the can’t-keep-me-down anthem “A Little Bit Stronger,” a National Celebrity Cabinet member of the American Red Cross and the mom of a blended family of 7 children, all ranging in age from 7 to 13. So while the bee might have picked the wrong lady to mess with, CMT on the other hand seems to have chosen wisely.

“Well, CMT viewers are country fans and country fans are without a doubt, in my opinion, the most charitable, giving, caring, down-home people,” says Evans, who’ll be shouting out to CMT One Country’s volunteer efforts this Wednesday during the 2012 CMT Music Awards. “I’m a farm kid from a town of 1,200 people in Missouri,” Evans continues. “Everything about me speaks to exactly what country fans are. And my mom was really big on always inviting people over and feeding people, helping them out, giving away our clothes—just everything she could do to help people less fortunate than us.”

Evans surveys the devastation left by a tornado in Alabama last year. Photo Credit: Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross

As she looks forward to her work with CMT One Country, Evans is especially drawn to one of the initiative’s ongoing six partnerships. “I love the BackPack Program,” she says, referring to Feeding America’s growing effort to get bags of nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to students who are struggling with hunger issues at home. Each year, bags of food assembled at more than 150 local food banks are distributed at the end of the week to nearly 230,000 children. “The fact that there are people who can’t afford school lunches just blows me away,” Evans says, “so I’d like to get more involved with that. It’s a really nice, really sweet program.” (It’s also sweet that, in lieu of providing pricey artist gift bags to those appearing at their awards show, CMT makes a group donation to the BackPack Program at Feeding America’s local Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.)

In addition to being on hand to promote the CMT One Country initiative during Wednesday night’s award show, Evans also has the honor of competing in the Female Video of the Year category, in which she’s nominated for “My Heart Can’t Tell You No.” Asked whom she’d favor in her category other than herself, Evans’ decision comes pretty easily. “I’d probably have to go with Miranda Lambert, [nominated for “Over You”],” she says. “She’s just cool. I met her when she was on Nashville Star and I told her she was going to win. She was so sweet and I like her because she’s remained very humble and down-to-earth. And I think she has a really cool voice.”

Believe it or not, picking an outfit for the awards seems to be the biggest source of stress for Evans, who is currently headlining concert dates across the country and gearing up to promote “Anywhere,” her newest single. “I swear to you, I literally will pick [my outfit] out an hour before the show. I’m such a country girl, so low-maintenance,” the songstress says, before poking a little fun at how she handles the whole fashion decision-making process. “Maybe it’s because I think I’m just so beautiful that everything’s going to look great. Maybe I’m just that delusional,” she offers with a laugh. Well, we don’t buy that for a minute—and we have a feeling she’ll look positively buzzworthy in whatever she chooses to wear.

The 2012 CMT Music Awards, hosted by Toby Keith and Kristen Bell, air live on Wednesday, June 6, at 8 p.m. ET. Viewers can vote in the Video of the Year category throughout the telecast.


Jewel On Motherhood, Making a Difference and Managing It All

May 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm , by

Before celebrating her first Mother’s Day with son, Kase (with husband Ty Murray), singer/songwriter Jewel chatted with LHJ about life as a mom, her newest passion projects, and how she’s giving back.

Tell us about your experience as a mom so far.  I am so excited about my first Mother’s Day! Being a mom has been the best thing I have ever done with my life. It is such a healing and sweet love, and it inspires me to be a better person every day. It has also inspired my writing. I have written many poems and songs for [baby Kase] already. I play him guitar every day, so that if he wants to pick it up one day, he can, but I won’t push him into it.

What projects have you been working on recently? Have they been inspired by your son? I wrote my son an album while I was pregnant called “The Merry Goes ‘Round.”  I wanted to write a children’s album that was clever and well-produced so parents would enjoy it on one level, and kids on another. It was fun to write and produce, because I got to think of all the things I wanted to say to my son, and what stories I would want him to hear. I also wrote a children’s book called That’s What I’d Do, based on a song I wrote. The book will come out this September and is about all the things you would do for your child because you love them. A CD of the song will be sold along with the book, so everyone can sing along if they want.

How do you juggle being a mom with all the professional projects you’re working on? Have your priorities shifted? How do you balance everything? Aside from my commitment to Child Hunger Ends Here, I have put almost all my work on hold for the year. I wanted to dig in and enjoy being a new mom, and wasn’t sure if I would want to continue working at all. I have to find my own sense of balance and rhythm as a new mom and [balance that with] my work — just like all moms have to. Becoming a mom has given me a whole new respect for women and how we are so many things to so many people… and we get so much done! Read more


Country Spotlight: Margaret Durante’s Nashville Diaries

July 15, 2011 at 9:36 am , by

Who hasn’t dreamed of rolling the dice and taking a shot at becoming a music superstar? It’s a fantasy most of us have probably entertained at one time or another—even if (like me) you couldn’t carry a tune if somebody wrapped it up and put it in a shopping bag with reinforced handles. That’s why we’ve talked singer-songwriter Margaret Durante into being LHJ’s lady on the inside. Margaret is one of Nashville’s freshest new talents and she’s currently living the dream. She’s also getting a taste of the heady highs and lonely lows that come along with living far away from home while she tries to get a high-profile music career off the ground. In a series of guest blogs exclusively for our Ladies’ Lounge readers, Margaret will allow us all to live vicariously through her whirlwind experiences, both onstage and off. Get to know Margaret in her introduction, below, then welcome her to the LHJ family, post a show of support and be sure to check back for further installments of her wild ride.

Hey, readers! My name is Margaret Durante and I’m thrilled that Ladies’ Home Journal is giving me the opportunity to offer you all a behind-the-scenes peek into my adventures down in Nashville. I’m just your average 23-year-old daughter/sister/granddaughter/niece/best friend who also happens to be chasing down my dream of living in Music City and making a name for myself in the crazy music industry. I currently have a single on the radio called “Maybe Tonight” and I’m finishing my first album after living here for four years.

M.D.

Margaret at the LHJ/CMT event at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

There are four women in my family of five, so an issue of LHJ was never hard to come by in my house as I was growing up. Having the chance now to take you all along on the ups and downs of my musical journey is surreal, and it all started when I teamed up with the folks at LHJ this past June. I joined them at an event they cohosted with CMT One Country on the eve of the 40th Annual CMA Festival, during which 10,000 country music fans descend upon Nashville to attend concerts, meet-and-greets, fan luncheons and a ton of other crazy events that celebrate everything country. That week was a huge deal to me as I’m still fairly new to the scene. It was so great to kick off the week working alongside other artists at this incredible LHJ/CMT event, preparing backpacks of food at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for hungry children who might not have the means to eat over the weekend or summer vacation. It was a wonderful way for us artists to remind ourselves that we are part of a community that can use our collective voices to call attention to helpful programs like this. (Click here if you want to help!)

Continue reading Margaret’s first installment after the jump …

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LHJ / CMT Do Good Volunteer Day at Second Harvest

June 16, 2011 at 9:15 am , by

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Crystal Bowersox and Brian Walker at Second Harvest.

For the second year in a row, Ladies’ Home Journal kicked off CMA Music Festival week by hosting a volunteer afternoon at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. This year, though, the afternoon also served as a kickoff for our brand spankin’ new partnership with CMT One Country. Click here to read about how our partnership’s Do Good Rewards program can lead to you winning a trip to the CMT Music Awards in Nashville next year!)

We had some amazing musical talent lending us their muscles and elbow grease for the afternoon, including Steel Magnolia, Jimmy Wayne, Crystal Bowersox, Carter’s Chord, Margaret Durante and Coldwater Jane. Along with reps from both LHJ and CMT, these artists donated some of the very little free time they had during their frenetic week to sweat alongside us prepping supplies for Feeding America‘s BackPack program, which was designed to meet the needs of hungry kids at times when other resources aren’t available (such as weekends and school vacations). By the afternoon’s end, our volunteers had prepped 2,107 bags of food for the program! At the CMT Awards the next night, other musical acts signed some symbolic bags to be auctioned off to raise more funds for the program, to which CMT makes a generous donation in lieu of those pricey artist gift bags other awards shows usually give out.

To keep the spirit of our volunteer afternoon alive, LHJ and CMT are now partnering up for a Do Good Summer Virtual Food Drive. If you’re able, we’d love it if you could contribute to it, which will then in turn provide much needed food to programs such as the BackPack effort. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Of course, if you’d like to volunteer at a Feeding America food bank, that’s another great way to do good and make a difference. As you can see from the slideshow below (with Carter’s Chord’s “Love a Little Bigger” as a musical background), our volunteer afternoon was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. Click here to find the nearest food bank in your area. Be sure to let us know how it goes!

For more pictures from our volunteer event, additional info on the BackPack program and stats from Second Harvest, read on after the jump.

All photos by John Russell.

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LHJ Hits the CMT Music Awards Red Carpet

June 6, 2011 at 9:09 am , by

Nashville is gearing up to host its biggest party of the year and I’m just about busting out of my boots. On Wednesday, I’ll be joining in on the fun by camping out on the CMT Music Awards red carpet. I’ll, of course, be gawking at the scene’s hottest acts as they arrive for the show, but also asking them the questions you want to know. It’s country music’s fan-voted awards show, after all, so we thought the fans (our readers!) should also weigh in on what we should ask. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at rckcountrycat so you can keep up with all the excitement in real time.

Some really big names are going to be there: host Kid Rock,  Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Luke Bryan, Sara Evans, the Zac Brown Band, Shania Twain, American IdolsScotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina and more. Even Justin Bieber (who’s nominated with Rascal Flatts for Collaborative Video of the Year) will be there!

So let me know your questions for the nominees and presenters. Fire away and post them below. I’ll do my best to get as many answered on the red carpet as I can. And if you just want to weigh in on who you think should win, let us hear that as well.

In the meantime, continue on after the jump for some videos from the talented acts that will be joining LHJ and CMT for our second annual afternoon of Do Good volunteering at Feeding America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. We’ll be partnering with CMT One Country to help stuff backpacks for Feeding America’s BackPack program, which provides nutritious food to those school children who need it most. In fact, instead of giving out those pricey gift bags full of electronics and other goodies most awards shows give out to talent, CMT opts to make a generous donation to the BackPack program instead. It’s a great idea, and we’re thrilled about helping prep the much needed backpacks for distribution.

Check out the amazing talent we have joining us at out volunteer afternoon at Feeding America, including Steel Magnolia, who are up for best Duo Video of the Year for “Last Night Again” at this year’s CMT Music Awards. We were lucky enough to have Josh and Meghan visit us in the office this year to do a rockin’ acoustic set for our staff. To see videos from the other great artists (Crystal BowersoxJimmy Wayne, Carter’s Chord, Margaret Durante and Coldwater Jane) we’re excited to have joining us for our volunteer adventure, read on after the jump:

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Katharine McPhee’s Do-Good Summer Plans

July 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm , by

mcphee1American Idol alum, Katharine McPhee, has teamed up ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America for an amazing project called, Hunger-Free Summer. 19.5 million American children are on free or reduced meals during the school year, and when school lets out, only 2.2 million of them are getting that free food over the summer. That leaves 17 million kids who go hungry during the summer because they’re no longer getting government-funded meals. “We’re working with 23 food banks and trying to bridge that gap,” says McPhee. “Our goal is to feed 25 percent more kids this summer than last.”

I spoke with Katharine about what drew her to this cause, how she’s helping, what we can do to eradicate hunger in America—and I couldn’t let her go without finding out what other projects she has up her sleeve.

Were you surprised by the hunger crisis in America?
When I heard that 1 in 4 kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from, I was shocked. A friend of mine is a schoolteacher in Minnesota and she said she had a student who was sneaking sandwiches because they were starving. And when kids are hungry, they can’t focus in school and they sometimes cause problems in the classroom. I just didn’t think about hunger existing in this country—especially not in LA where I grew up.

You’ll be visiting food banks in at least six cities. What will you being doing there?
My main duty is to talk to food bank representatives and see how we can make the program better every summer. Many of the kids’ parents will be working, so they’ll be dropped off at supervised areas close to the food bank. And they spend their days there because they get lunch and dinner. So I’m there just to remind them that they’re kids, play with them and maybe sing a couple songs with them.

What can our readers do to help?
You can go to my website, katharinemcphee.com, and there are links to the programs that I’m working on. There are so many ways you can make a difference. In these economic times, it’s really hard to ask people for money. I get that, but this issue is not just about money. It’s about giving time.

Find out what Katharine is up to next…

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