St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been a cause country artists have proudly supported over the years, and with good reason. The hospital, located in Memphis, Tenn., offers completely free medical care to children battling cancer and other diseases of the blood, along with giving families free housing and food, as well as providing cutting-edge research to help find a cure for various types of cancer.
But in addition to the fund-raising efforts, the artists also took time to visit the hospital, and spend time with the children currently undergoing treatment.
Even for busy artists like Jerrod Niemann, his time at St. Jude is far more important than anything his career demands of him.
"In country music we're all so lucky to hold a torch that represents country music," Niemann shared. "But it encompasses so much more than just music, and to see the footprints that all of our heroes have left behind, it's our duty to keep that goin'. It's just so cool to be a fly on the wall for a day here whenever you can and see the kids and of course see where things are heading."
"The cool thing about what Country Cares does, is even before you realize what you're learning, you're learning that this community has taken it on to remind all of us from the very beginning until the end, until past retirement, that it is your responsibility as a human being, as a citizen of the country world to give back," adds Cam. "As you pick out who you're gonna give back to, there are better and worse choices. And I don't feel bad saying that. There are nonprofits that are not run well, and you should question them and vet them out and this place has yet to not answer a question like 100%."
Cam, who studied psychology in college and worked as a researcher before launching her music career, sees more than just the care the children receive as a benefit to St. Jude.
"The fact that their families can come and they don't have to pay for housing," she adds. "The fact that these medicines are developed in house. ... Some of my background is in research and you get limited by the grants you can get, you get limited by the patients you have access to, and those are two things that – it's right here, it's well funded, you have access to all these kids. It's a really incredibly, amazing incubator for hope and answers that don't exist – it really doesn't exist many other places, at all."
Danielle Bradbery enjoyed her second visit to St. Jude as part of this year's Country Cares. Even though her schedule is busy, promoting her recent I Don't Believe We've Met album, the alum of The Voice insists she receives much more than she gives while interacting with the children at St. Jude.
"The first time, I took a huge part out of just meeting the kids and everything," Bradbery shares. "Every time I come back, something is new that's so surprising. Every time I meet the kids, they're all laughing and having a good time, all these personalities. I'm like, 'Maybe I shouldn't have complained or thought about having a bad day.' You really think about all that stuff again. You're like, 'Okay, we don't really have bad days.' They just show that you can be happy no matter what."
Meanwhile, artists like Drake White encourages other artists, especially those in the public eye, to be mindful of how far-reaching their involvement can extend.
"The platform, that's what I take from this. What are we doing with our platform?" he shares. "I believe that when we get that platform, when we're blessed with that platform – we've seen ways that Randy and people before us have used their platform. It just gives us ideas and gets our motor running, like, 'This is what you do, folks. The picture is bigger. Music is healing. Keep making music,' because the music industry is a grind. It's constantly grinding and taking, and so it's awesome to go to Randy and use him as an accomplice, somewhat. It's been done before. Let's just keep rocking."
Other artists who participated in this year's Country Cares for St. Jude program include Owen, Krystal Keith, Ashley McBryde, Kassi Ashton, Jillian Jacqueline, Devin Dawson and Walker McGuire, among others. Brad Paisley was also on hand to perform, but was also surprised with this year's Randy Owens Angels Among Us Award, honoring his numerous contributions to St. Jude.
"This recognition is a testament to Brad Paisley's strong advocacy for St. Jude, and the ongoing fight for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases," says Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude. "And this honor for Brad also reflects the strength of the entire country music industry, who devote their hearts, time and talent each year to further share our mission and raise funds that are critically important in ensuring families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live."
In addition to Country Cares, over 60 artists, including Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett are participants in St. Jude's This Shirt Saves Lives Campaign.
To donate to St. Jude, or to find out more information, visit their website.
Photo Credit: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital