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April 24, 2014

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'Giving Back' To Their Hometown Is Not New For The Band Perry

Sun File Photo

Camp Creek community resident and tornado victim Chuck Feiling of Rambo Road, at left, is shown talking to Neil, Reid and Kimberly Perry, of The Band Perry, as they helped to deliver meals with the American Red Cross in May 2011. In the center are Feiling’s daughter, Starr Hardee, at left, and an unidentified television reporter who was covering The Perrys’ visit to the tornado-stricken area.

Originally published: 2013-03-30 00:32:16
Last modified: 2013-04-01 02:11:48



On the morning of April 27, 2011, Kimberly Perry and her brothers, Reid and Neil Perry, were in New York City, where they performed on NBC's Today show, and helped to announce the nominees for that year's CMT Music Awards.

The Band Perry's country music career had officially launched -- and the sibling trio were elated about an upcoming major tour on which they would be opening for country superstar Tim McGraw.

Later that evening, however, the Perrys' excitement from the day's events in The Big Apple turned quickly into heartbreak when they received a phone call from their maternal grandmother, who was back home in Greeneville, Tennessee.

Devastating tornadic storms had carved a path of destruction through the South - including a portion of their beloved East Tennessee home community.

While their own family home in southern Greene County had been spared by the storm, many of their fellow Greene Countians were not so lucky. Many - especially those in the Camp Creek and Horse Creek communties - lost homes and possessions. Seven residents lost their lives.

The April 27 storms affected 26 counties in the state of Tennessee.

Of that number, 10 counties received major damage and four (Greene, Washington, Bradley and Hamilton counties) were declared federal disaster areas.

Like many other Greene Countians, the Perry family immediately began to seek out ways that they could help their neighbors and friends in the recovery effort.

As soon as the trio returned home from the road in early May, the first thing they did was find out how they could get involved in both a financial way and a "hands-on" effort to help.

Along with American Red Cross volunteers, the siblings helped to deliver hot meals and cold water -- as well as some hope - to those affected by the tornadoes.

They spent time with tornado survivors as well as with volunteers, rescue workers and others who were intensely involved in the recovery effort.

Among the survivors whom Kimberly, Reid and Neil spoke with was Chuck Feiling, who was out working to clear debris from his Rambo Road property.

Still showing signs of his injuries from the storm, Feiling told the band members that his wife, who was also injured in the storm, works at JCPenney in Greeneville and frequently tells him about seeing their grandmother at the store, and speaking with her.

"I never thought that I would have the chance to see you," Feiling told them with a smile.

"This is a huge pick-me-up," he said. "I needed it. The whole community here needed a pick-me-up."

Providing a "pick-me-up" has become quite a specialty for The Band Perry in their hometown.

In addition to helping both financially and "hands-on" with tornado recovery efforts locally, the Perry family has continually sought ways to help the community that they have called home since moving here in 2002.

When it came time to launch their debut album in October 2010, the band didn't do that in Nashville - but rather, right here in Greeneville, complete with a free mini-concert.

There have also been generous donations to the local Humane Society animal shelter, the community food bank, and many, many other local charitable and non-profit organizations.

While some of their good deeds were made public, many others were not. It was not the publicity that the family sought - only the genuine satisfication that they received in their hearts by simply being good and kind neighbors and friends.

They often show up without any kind of public notice in unexpected, unpublicized places - helping to support and raise awareness of needs and worthy causes that may affect their fellow Greene Countians in both big and small ways.

Just a few of the examples include:

A budding local musician was mentored, encouraged and even invited to accompany the band on the road for the summer.

Two local high school marching bands were invited to participate in a photo shoot for the new TBP album, and a young student photographer was invited to take part as well.

Plus, a local woman -- whom the siblings had never met before -- was honored and extremely touched when the band approached her at a local restaurant, after learning that it was her birthday, and offered to sing "Happy Birthday" to her.

Karen Dean said the kind, completely unexpected deed was certainly one of the best birthday presents she had ever received.

Last May 22, Dean and her husband were out with their friends at Monterrey's Mexican Restaurant in Greeneville's Towne Square Shopping Center, to celebrate her May 23 birthday a day early.

While awaiting their meal, Dean said that she and her friends noticed the members of The Band Perry come into the restaurant with several other people and sit down at a nearby table.

Being enthusiastic country music fans -- especially fans of the hometown sibling trio -- Dean said that her group were all extremely excited to be dining close to the Perrys.

During their meal, Dean said that her friends told their waiter that it was her birthday and wondered if the staff could wish her a Happy Birthday, complete with the Mexican restaurant's traditional ¡Feliz cumpleaños! sombrero on her head.

Dean said that Kimberly Perry overheard the conversation, turned around and said, "Ma'am, I don't mean to bother you, but did I hear it's your birthday?"

Dean replied, "Well, actually tomorrow is my birthday, but my friends brought me and my husband out to celebrate tonight."

Kimberly then said, "Would you care if we sing 'Happy Birthday' to you?"

Shocked, but extremely pleased, Dean said, "No, I wouldn't mind. I would really like that!"

After Kimberly and her brothers, Neil and Reid, sang to her, they took photos with the group and chatted.

"As I was hugging the boys, thanking them, and telling their parents what great kids they had raised, Kimberly went and got a piece of paper, folded it, and made me a birthday card," Dean said.

"She made it herself -- and she and her brothers autographed it!" she added excitedly.

Dean said she was so excited -- and touched -- that the Perrys would take the time to make her feel so very special.

"They are just as nice as they can be!" she said.

"For them to come up to me ... and do this ... it just touches my heart!" Dean said with tears in her eyes.

As a child, Dean said that she was never given a birthday party -- and having country music stars come up to her, out-of-the-blue, and do this for her was such a wonderful, unexpected gift!

Now, today, the band's latest offering to their friends and fans in Greene County is a free concert - designed as a gift back to the community that they say has given them a place to call home.

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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