Thomas Rhett celebrates his 30th birthday on Monday, March 30, and the singer will be spending the day at home with his family amid the coronavirus pandemic. He and wife Lauren Akins are parents to three daughters — Willa Gray, Ada James and Lennon Love, who was born in February — and there's no doubting that Rhett's golden birthday will be filled with a whole lot of love.
Rhett has become a major name in country music over the past few years, with the star having officially graduated from opener to headliner, earning a slew of No. 1 hits and album sales to boot. While many of Rhett's fans already know more than a few facts about the him (and his adorable family), there are still a few things that listeners might be surprised to find out.
Read on for nine facts you may not know about Rhett.
His full name is Thomas Rhett Akins, Jr.
Rhett is named after his father, Thomas Rhett Akins, Sr., who goes by Rhett Akins. Akins is also a country singer who had a number of hits in the '90s and is now a hugely successful songwriter who has written for artists like Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Chris Young and Luke Bryan.
Akins has also teamed up with his son to write, with the duo penning Rhett tracks "Star of the Show," "Playing with Fire" and others.
He was in a middle school punk band
Before Rhett branched out on his own, he was a member of a band called the High Heeled Flip Flops, which the singer described as "punk rock" during a Town Hall with Hoda Kotb on Sirius XM's The Highway.
Rhett explained that he started the High Heeled Flip Flops in the sixth grade and served as the drummer for the group.
"We all dyed our hair black and sang in British accents," he recalled. "We loved being rebellious."
He went to college in Nashville
Rhett told Taste of Country that he attended Lipscomb University in Nashville but wasn't quite sure which path he wanted to go down.
"I did kinesiology, and after the first four days of class, I dropped out because I was like, 'This ain’t the class for me!'" he recalled. "I picked up a business major, wanting to do something in sales, but I found out I had to take an Excel spreadsheet class. I was like, 'Well screw that … I’m not doing that!' So I dropped my business major, too, and finally ended up doing communications, not having a clue what I wanted to do."
Soon after, Rhett began making his way into the music industry, signing a publishing deal and eventually, a record deal.
He and his wife are charitable
147 Million Orphans aims to counter the global orphan crisis and provide care and supplies to those who need it, and Rhett and wife Lauren Akins have been involved with the organization for years. In 2016, they organized a benefit concert, enlisting Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line to take the stage alongside Rhett, with the event raising more than $250,000 for 147.
The organization also led the couple to their daughter Willa Gray, who they adopted from Uganda. Lauren, who is now a member of the charity's Board of Directors, first met the little girl while she was in the country traveling with 147.
“I called Thomas one of the first nights I met her in Uganda and told him about her,” Akins told Us Weekly. “Without hesitation he said, ‘Bring her home. She is ours. We are going to make this happen.’”
Another country couple discovered Lauren's pregnancy first
Along with Willa Gray and baby Lennon, Rhett and Lauren are also parents to daughter Ada James, who was born in August 2017. During a trip to Tanzania in December 2016, Akins began feeling sick, so she took a pregnancy test. Though Rhett wasn't present while she took the test, their friends, Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and his wife, Hayley, were.
The test turned out positive, so the Hubbards were the first to hear the news that Lauren was expecting.
"I’m jumping up and down, Tyler’s giving me a bear hug and Hayley’s running out of their room and I’m like, 'Thomas Rhett is not even here!'" Lauren told PEOPLE, sharing that the group quickly ran to the gym, where Rhett was working out, to share the happy news.
My little snow bunnies are ready to play ❄️??❄️?? pic.twitter.com/0Z1fLUgY3m— Lauren Akins (@laur_akins) March 12, 2018
His favorite restaurant is Zaxby's
Rhett loves the Southern fast-food chain Zaxby's so much, he even starred in a series of commercials for the chain along with fellow country star Brett Eldredge.
“I don’t know what it means to Brett, but for me, that was a dream come true," Rhett told Country Countdown USA of the gig. "I grew up in Valdosta, Georgia, where one of the first Zaxby’s existed, my grandmother took me there sometimes twice a day. Still to this day I’d rather eat at Zaxby’s than Kayne Prime. It’s my favorite place to eat.”
Before Rhett was an artist, he used to play drums in his father's band
Rhett was an avid drummer for years and still plays drums to this day on his own tours.
When he was younger, his dad would bring him on stage during his own shows, with Rhett taking over the drums during his dad's encore. In his early years, Rhett would spend time with his dad's famous friends including Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn and Blake Shelton.
Jason Aldean recorded his first cut as a songwriter
Rhett began working as a songwriter while attending college and scored his first cut as a songwriter with the song "I Ain't Ready to Quit," on Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party album. Other early cuts included songs for Joe Nichols and Scotty McCreery.
"It was kind of a weird life for the first couple of years, but a couple of months later, I got my Jason Aldean cut, and I was like, 'Well. maybe I can do this for a living,'" Rhett told Taste of Country of his beginnings as a songwriter. "Then I started getting more cuts."
His 'Die a Happy Man' video was filmed while he and Lauren were on vacation
One of Rhett's biggest hits to date is the "Die a Happy Man," which written about Akins. The video for the song was shot during a vacation the pair took in Hawaii, giving a sweet visual to an already gorgeous song.
"My wife is one of those people that never wants to be in the spotlight or in videos, but it was inevitable for her to be in this one because I wrote the song for her and about her," Rhett told PEOPLE of the clip. "We just hung around and did exactly what we would do if a camera was on us or not, except for the scenes where they’re telling us to kiss underwater – that’s something we don’t typically do!"
Photo Credit: Getty / Rich Fury