BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Band Perry trio -- Kimberly, Neil and Reid -- are household names nationally. However, few communities have the opportunity to really get to know the siblings, much less to the extent that their hometown has come to know and embrace them.
On Thursday, a national cable television network appeared on the scene to get some of the inside scoop about the band that Greenevillians call their neighbors.
Great American Country (GAC) normally only makes its way into Greene County via television screens, but representatives have been in town since Wednesday and plan to stay through Sunday.
Other national (including ABC and CMT) and local media are expected to make an appearance during Saturday's free downtown concert that will preview the band's second album, "Pioneer."
GAC, however, decided to make themselves at home in Greeneville for several days.
Besides exploring the town and planning to cover the concert, GAC interviewed several members of the community who know the Perrys.
On Thursday, the television crew's list of interviews included businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger, Greeneville Sun staff writer Lisa Warren, carpenter Roger Brown, Radio Greeneville, Inc. music director Nate Humbard, and friends and neighbors Robert and Yolande George.
The interviews and footage gathered will appear on GAC's Origins show at 10 p.m., May 11.
The proximity to Mother's Day -- Sunday, May 12 -- is deliberate because one of the singles on the band's Pioneer album honors Kimberly, Neil and Reid's mother, Marie, said executive producer Paul Reeves.
"It's Mother's Day weekend, so that's going to be awesome," confirmed GAC Director of Programming Dottie Rotch.
"Origins is this great series that gets the chance to examine an artist's life. We get time with their friends and their family and people like Roger [Brown]," Rotch said.
'IF I DIE YOUNG'
Brown, a high-end, nationally-known carpenter who works quietly out of the St. James community, has designed a number of special, custom projects for the Perrys.
In the process, he has become a family friend and a sounding board for their music.
In fact, Brown was designing projects at the family's kitchen table with Marie Perry a few years ago when Kimberly ran downstairs to share the lyrics she had just written -- lyrics to a song that would soon skyrocket the band to the status of national stars.
The song was If I Die Young.
In his interview with GAC, Brown shared this experience, pausing at times due to his great emotion.
"They were very young when I met them," he said. "You knew they had talent, and they stayed with it.
"They may be up there with Andrew Johnson and Davy Crockett when it's all said and done," Brown said, referring to The Band Perry's growing local celebrity status.
Both President Johnson and famed frontiersman Crockett are considered local heroes since Johnson lived most of his life here, and Crockett was born at Limestone.
That particular statement was met with great enthusiasm by the film crew, who paused after the comment to enjoy Brown's wit.
The crew also heard, from Warren, an emotional retelling of the band's role aiding the community after the April 2011 tornadoes devastated portions of the county.
Warren has followed the band as an entertainment reporter with the Sun since before they signed with Republic Nashville.
"When that happened, we were just so excited!" Warren said of their signing with a national record label. "Things started soaring from there."
Warren, Brown and Niswonger all related on camera how the Perrys have become a part of a close-knit community that is quick to reach out and embrace anyone in need.
Niswonger also emphasized how the Perrys have become role models for young people locally and are creating opportunities for those young people to find entertainment in Greeneville.
"This Saturday is going to be chaotic -- and I mean that in a very positive sense," Niswonger said.
"There will never have been that many people in downtown Greeneville at one time.
"I think everybody is so looking forward to that magic moment when they step onto that stage," Niswonger said.
"Not only do we get time with friends and family -- and in their hometown -- we also get to hear songs when they perform in the show," Rotch said.
"It makes a great show," she added. "It's a great way for our fans to delve in and learn about the people that shape their lives."