BY LISA WARREN
Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry were welcomed back home to Greeneville in a big way Saturday evening, and they spoke freely at a news conference that afternoon about their feelings for this community.
The siblings, known as The Band Perry, presented a free concert in downtown Greeneville that turned out to hear new music from the band's second album, "Pioneer."
By special arrangement, thousands of copies of the new CD, which is scheduled for national release on Tuesday, was made available for sale at the event.
Those who purchased the CD were given an opportunity to have it autographed by the band members following the however, the Perrys held a news conference at the General Morgan Inn with East Tennessee media -- and some national media as well -- where they spoke with strong feeling about what it was like for them to come home to Greeneville.
News media representatives ranged from The Greeneville Sun and Radio Greeneville to WJHL TV of Johnson City, WCYB TV of Bristol, WBIR TV and WATE TV, both of Knoxville; Clear Channel Media, a nationwide network; and the ABC TV's Nightline, from New York, and others.
The Perrys recalled how they have "marched forward" with their music since the release of their debut album two years ago -- and how they managed to make their mother cry with one of the songs on their new album.
'MAIN STREET USA'
"We really wanted the world premiere [of our second album] to happen in our hometown," Kimberly Perry said at the news conference.
She said that they chose to have the concert on Main Street in downtown Greeneville because "we truly believe that Main Street USA is the heartbeat of our country.
While there are a lot of "uncertainties" going on throughout the world and the United States, she said that at least for the evening, she and her brothers hoped that those who turned out for the show were able to put away any hard times from their minds, simply enjoy themselves for awhile, and leave with a smile on their faces.
"This is such an exciting day for us, not only because it is the world premiere of 'Pioneer,' which has been our labor of love for the past 18 months. But we were so excited to come back home," Kimberly Perry continued.
"When we released our first album, we did so downtown in Greeneville. And we wanted to come back and debut 'Pioneer.'
"The spirit of the album is about a journey," she continued. "I think sometimes to know where you're going, you have to remember where you're from.
"Greeneville is our home," she said. "It is our serenity. It is our peace of mind.
"I think the one thing that Greeneville brings to the three of us is an opportunity to think. When you're out on the road ... as fast-paced as we are ... there is little time to just contemplate, and that's really where our creativity stems from -- our thoughts."
NEIL AND REID PERRY
Neil Perry said, "In our world, things change every day. We're in a new city every single day. We're doing a lot of new things.
"So we love coming home to a place that never changes, and it just gives us a real peace when we come home."
Reid Perry said, "The last time we played Greeneville was when we released our first album.
"We haven't had a show here since, partly because we were waiting for a moment like this
"Not every artist has a chance to release a second album, so for us, we really wanted to celebrate our second album with our hometown because it means so much to us."
Kimberly Perry described their work on "Pioneer" as "a journey."
One of the songs on the new album was co-written by the Perrys with Brad Paisley.
Kimberly Perry described it as a "musically indulgent song" with Paisley performing much of the electric guitar on the tune.
A SONG FOR MOTHERS
Neil said that one of his favorite songs on the new album is one that the trio wrote about their mother, Marie.
"It was probably one of the most personal songs that we wrote for the album," he said. "I think mothers all over the country will love it."
The song, Neil Perry continued, was written at their home in southern Greene County during one of their rare days off from the road.
"We were down by our creek on our property, and we were thinking of writing a song for our mom, who has been with us literally every step of the way on this journey," he said.
"So that was the outcome of our songwriting day. We wrote a song about what the world would look like if it was raised by our mom, like she raised us."
Kimberly Perry said, "We decided that the wars would all be over because she would make us all be friends, which she absolutely did in our family."
When the siblings played the finished tune for their mother, Reid Perry said that she cried.
"Which isn't saying a lot," he quipped, "because she cries about a lot of things. We still get tears out of her every time we play it."
HOW THINGS CHANGE
Since becoming one of the hottest country acts in country music over the past two years, life has certainly changed for The Band Perry, the siblings said.
"We have traveled a lot of miles since we were here for the release of our first album," Kimberly Perry said.
"We have played at the White House," she said. "We have gone to Australia," brother Neil piped in. "And we met Paul McCartney!" Kimberly Perry said.
"But more importantly," she said, "we now get to have giant sing-a-longs each night with our fellow country music-loving family.
"[The concert-goers] may think that they are coming out to hear us sing, but in reality we have traveled a long way to hear them sing," she added.
Saturday's big event was presented by the Greene County Partnership and sponsored by General Mills in order to raise awareness for its Outnumber Hunger campaign, in which the Perrys have participated for the past two years.
"We had no idea that one in six Americans struggle with hunger," Kimberly Perry said. "I've always thought of America as the land of plenty, but there is struggle here. Outnumber Hunger is a wonderful way to give back to your hometown."
Reid Perry said that people can find out more about the campaign and how they can help their local food bank, by visiting the Outnumber Hunger website, at http://www.outnumberhunger.com
Also at the news conference was Republic Nashville President Scott Borchetta, who welcomed the media and thanked everyone involved in helping to make Saturday's event possible.
"There are so many wonderful people that helped to put this event together. It's amazing. And I want to take a minute to say 'Thank you,'" Borchetta said.
Tom Ferguson, the Greene County Partnership president and CEO, introduced state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeeneville, who presented the Perrys with a special proclamation from the Tennessee General Assembly in recognition of their continued success.
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