Thursday January 29th an invitation only special screening of Bearing Light: A Journey To Sudan was hosted by Big Kenny (of Big n Rich) in conjunction with National Geographic Magazine. The event was taped for an upcoming “Geo Sessions” television special in front of a crowd of 200 at the Ford Theatre in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Kenny and his wife, Christiev created an atmosphere to make each individual in the room feel like they were joining the hosts in their living room.
The lights were dimmed and a huge screen was lowered at the front of the theatre, Big Kenny did not need to use the microphone in the intimate setting, and oftentimes did not, as he shared the stories behind the personal photos they took while on the trip to the south-western region of Sudan in Africa. The Alphins were accompanied by Gloria White-Hammond, Dr. David Marks and Rev. Damien Horne. The room became silent as the images of the children, women and men of the poverty stricken village filled the screen one precious picture at a time and Kenny described the moments with a voice filled with compassion. At times you could hear his voice crack as emotions welled up inside him. His passion for helping people, not only those from Sudan, but everyone is larger than life and you could see his chest swell with pride as the photos progressed from one with a large baobab tree encircled with children being schooled under it to the three buildings they helped construct to serve as school buildings for the education of girls in the village of Akon.
After his slide show, Kenny spoke about his mission and his plans to go back to Sudan in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the trip. Kenny and his wife, Christiev, are working with Dr. Gloria White-Hammond of My Sister’s Keeper, a non-profit humanitarian agency and together they are preparing to bring back the necessities to make the buildings into classrooms and giving the medical facility the basic supplies and organizational items needed at the village.
Big Kenny said the most touching moment was immediately after landing in Akon, where groups of women and children had been waiting for over a day for them to land. As soon as the doors on the cargo plane opened, he heard songs of joy and celebration to welcome them, combined with the smiles on the faces of the children he was momentarily unable to continue moving off of the plane and had to just stand there and absorb the overwhelming welcome.
"When I was a child, my great aunt decided that it was drastically important that I always have a subscription to the National Geographic magazine, so I have always kinda followed the cultures around the world," Big Kenny explained.
As the evening continued, Big Kenny brought his band on stage and performed several songs, some old and some new tunes in reflection of his trip, including a touching tune called "Heart of Africa", sang by Damien Horne. The highlight of the night was not the music, but the tenderness and the desire of this one individual, who as many know, was literally down to his last dollar and now is making a difference in the human race and those who have joined him in this mission.
For more information and to see the video clips of his trip, please visit http://www.youtube.com/LoveEverybodyTV, http://www.mskeeper.org/, and http://www.savedafur.org/.