Kenny Chesney and the Country Music Association have partnered donate $500,000 to help to those affected by the wildfires that have devastated Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas in the Smoky Mountains.
Additionally, the Academy of Country Music, the organization’s nonprofit arm ACM Lifting Lives and Taylor Swift will donate a combined $200,000 to Dolly Parton’s My People Fund.
Chesney’s hometown of Luttrell is a little more than an hour away from where the wildfires claimed the lives of 14 people, injured nearly 150 people and destroyed more than 2,400 properties, according to the Washington Post.
A portion of the proceeds from the CMA’s partnership with Chesney will be earmarked for Dolly Parton’s My People Fund, which will provide monthly donations of $1,000 to those who lost their homes in the devastation. The remaining funds from the CMA will be distributed where need is the greatest with the hopes of reaching as many impacted families and individuals as possible. The CMA is working with established local agencies in an attempt to identify those organizations that are providing valuable and necessary services.
The Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon airs live from Nashville on Tuesday (Dec. 13) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on GAC, AXS TV, RFD and the Heartland Network. The night will feature performances by Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Big & Rich, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, LOCASH, Chris Janson, Montgomery Gentry, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss and Parton.
Additionally, USA Today National Networks will host a live stream of the event on its affiliate newspaper websites. iHeart Media’s digital and select on-air platforms, Cumulus Media’s NASH Nights Live and TuneIn’s Country Roads channel will also simulcast the show.
Fans can donate directly to the My People Fund now by visiting the Dollywood Foundation website. The number to call to contribute to the cause during the telethon is 1-866-CARE MORE. Fans are also encouraged to join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #MyPeopleFund and #someplacespecial.
The Zac Brown Band is also joining the effort to help those affected by the East Tennessee wildfires. They will headline the Gatlinburg — Mountain Tough Benefit in downtown Gatlinburg on Saturday (Dec. 17). The day-long event will feature performances by Jim Lauderdale, Sam Bush, Derek St. Holmes, Jason D. Williams, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, Randy Kohrs, Sarah Potenza, Moe Pitney and Chelle Rose.
Middle Tennessee State University’s WMOT/Roots Radio will broadcast the Zac Brown Band concert live, along with other statewide and regional radio stations. Music City Roots will stream the show. According to Knoxville’s WBIR-TV, donations will support the East Tennessee Foundation’s Sevier County Community Fund and will be accepted online and in-person at the event.
CMT’s pro-social initiative, CMT One Country, continues to support the American Red Cross in their efforts to provide disaster relief to those affected by the wildfires. Donate $10 directly to the Red Cross by texting 90999. Volunteer opportunities nationwide are also available through the CMT One Country website.