Kix Brooks is esteemed by country fans for his years of energetic live shows, both as part of the duo Brooks & Dunn, and as a solo entertainer and songwriter.
Monday evening (Feb. 2), Brooks was honored by the Country Music Association for the hard work he does behind the scenes, to help scores of charitable organizations. During an elegant dinner at Nashville’s City Winery, the CMA Foundation honored Brooks with its inaugural Humanitarian Award.
CMA Board of Directors member Brian O’Connell noted that after Brooks joined the CMA Board of Directors in 1998, he was instrumental in helping to form the CMA Music Foundation. He also presided as President of the Board in 2004, and Chairman in 2005.
“He joined the CMA Board, not for the prestige, but to represent the artist community, which was underrepresented at the time,” said O’Connell. “He wanted to know how CMA worked, and especially at the time, how Fan Fair worked. The artists were not getting paid to perform. He was asking questions and calling bullshit when it needed to be called, having an honest dialogue with the board and committees. As a direct result of his involvement was the formation of the CMA Music Foundation, funded through the proceeds of CMA Music Festival. It’s because of Kix’s vision that every student in Metro Nashville public schools should have access to play a musical instrument.”
The Country Music Association Foundation has also donated more than $11 million to music programs across the United States.
Brooks also saw a need to develop affordable health insurance options for CMA members, advocating for the creation of the CMA Instrumental Health Care.
In attendance were several representatives of charitable organizations that Kix has helped over the years, including Operation Finally Home, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Monroe Harding Children’s Home, Louisiana Tech, and the CMA Foundation.
Video tributes came from Jody Williams, Joe Galante, Clarence Spalding, Rob Beckham, Scott Borchetta, Becky Brenner, Charlie Morgan, Ebie McFarland, Frank Bumstead, Jeff Walker, John Esposito, Little Big Town, Gary Overton, John Huie, Michael Knox, Mike Dungan, Mike Vaden, Don and Stacey Schlitz, Tony Conway, Troy Tomlinson, Victoria Shaw and more.
The evening’s closing tribute came from fellow superstar (and soon to be Vegas concert partner) Reba McEntire, who has now known and worked with Brooks for more than 20 years. “I’ve got a few stories on Kix,” quipped Reba. “Some people are in your life for a reason, for a season, or for forever. I’m hoping from 1994 to forever, we will always be friends, and always get to go hang out together. That’s how everyone in this room feels about you. We’ve seen how much you’ve given and contributed, but the biggest thing about you is that you have the biggest heart in the world.”
“I finally got my head around it this week,” Brooks said. “I thought, what a great idea to just have dinner…then we can celebrate and the CMA has come up with a way for us to enjoy being together and enjoy giving to our community. It is a good thing to give to others, then this is a good thing we are doing tonight. Then all of a sudden, this feels right, not because this is about me, but it is about us.
“I can tell you what it means, not to get this award, but to hear all the things I’ve heard tonight, to be here and supported, it makes your heart feel so big. Things that matter in this world really do matter.”
The CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award was created by the CMA Awards, to honor individuals who have been involved with humanitarian initiatives through community leadership, financial support, personal volunteerism, and advocacy.
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