Dolly Parton and a host of artists and celebrities took to the airwaves on Tuesday night during Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund.
They had one goal in mind, to raise funds for the victims of the Tennessee wildfires. The three-hour star-studded event was packed with beautiful performances, emotional stories and a collective message of hope.
Viewers pledged their support by calling, texting and going online to DollywoodFoundation.org.
The night's performances included songs by Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss, Michael W. Smith, Chris Janson, Big & Rich, LOCASH, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Amy Grant, Alabama, Aaron Lewis and Rhonda Vincent.
The heroic efforts of the first responders were celebrated during the live telecast. Also, viewers were reminded of Sevier County's world-famous hospitality and renowned entertainment venues ready and waiting for them in East Tennessee. Dolly encouraged people to visit Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam made a special appearance, and several celebrities greeted viewers in heartfelt video messages including Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, and Today Show’s Willie Geist.
Dolly shared her hosting duties with friends HLN’s Robin Meade, GAC’s Suzanne Alexander and Nan Kelly, The Bobby Bones Show’s Bobby Bones, SiriusXM’s Storme Warren, Crook & Chase hosts Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase, NASH Nights LIVE’s Shaun Parr and Elaina D. Smith, and TuneIn Country Roads’ Kelly Sutton.
Celebrities donating their time to answer phones included: Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie, Chrisley Knows Best cast members Todd, Julie and Savannah, Moonshiners’ cast members Mark and Digger, Nashville’s Charles Esten, cast members of Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors, country hit-makers Chris & Morgane Stapleton, Terri Clark, Mark Wills, Lee Greenwood, Larry Gatlin, T.G. Sheppard, Highway 101's Paulette Carlson, John Conlee, Ronnie McDowell, Kristian Bush, Tim Rushlow, T. Graham Brown, Dolly’s nieces Rebecca Seaver and Danielle Parton, bluegrass hitmakers Lorraine Jordan and Darrin Vincent, comedian Henry Cho, KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, hot new country artists Brett Young, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Danielle Bradbury, Lucas Hoge, Denny Strickland, songwriter Becky Hobbs, and members of the Tennessee Titans.
Nearly $500,000 of donations were committed before the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon began. The ACM donated $100,000 to the fund, with Taylor Swift matching the amount, while the CMA donated $125,000 accompanied by a matching donation by East Tennessean Kenny Chesney.
About My People Fund
More than 1300 families have been displaced due to the wildfires which spread across Dolly’s home area of Sevier County, Tennessee in late November. The entertainment icon established the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund to provide $1000 each month for six months to every family who lost their primary residence. Currently, the monthly pledge is in excess of $1.3 million each month.
About Tennessee Wildfires
On Nov. 28, devastating wildfires burned some 17,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fires also affected parts of Gatlinburg and Sevier County, TN. Sadly, 14 people lost their lives in these terrible fires, and over 100 confirmed injuries were reported. Over 14,000 people were evacuated during the fires which damaged or destroyed more than 1,700 structures (homes, businesses and churches). In Gatlinburg alone, officials estimate the wildfires caused more than $500 million in damage.