During the 2020 Country Cares For St. Jude Kids event, Lady Antebellum were bestowed with the coveted Angels Among Us Award. But for Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, the award is not just a symbol of their dedication to the hospital, but a catalyst for educating others on the power of service.
The award is named after the Alabama song “Angels Among Us.” Alabama’s frontman Randy Owen founded Country Cares 31 years ago, his efforts resulting in an annual event that brings several country artists, members of the Nashville media and radio personnel from across the country to Memphis to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and learn about the life-changing work taking place inside its walls. Past recipients of the award include Owen, Darius Rucker and Brad Paisley.
The country legend remarked on the red carpet that he’s not only a fan of the trio and their music, but is “thrilled” they’re involved with St. Jude. “All of the people that receive that award have very special qualities,” Owen told Sounds Like Nashville and other media. “They’re all very important people.”
Days before the special event, Lady A celebrated their latest No. 1 hit, “What if I Never Get Over You.” As rewarding as the commercial success is, Scott determines that the platform they’ve been given through such successes, allowing them to aid a worthy organization like St. Jude, is even more meaningful. “I am such a believer in timing and the lessons that we can learn in the midst of things like this that happen. To have the celebration of a No.1 song, but then to be here and have this, this is the incredible honor of being able to use the platform we’ve been given,” she explained on the red carpet, calling the award an “honor.” “To be here and to see this hospital, what they’re doing to save lives, that’s what this is about, that’s what life is really about. It’s using your platform and doing good for others in need.”
The Grammy Award winning trio accepted the award during the opening night gala of the two-day event at the historic Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, Tenn., hours after they had visited St. Jude and the patients. Upon accepting the honor, Scott recalled how they first toured the hospital a decade prior as a new act with only three singles to their name. She also noted how the expectation for artists in the country music community to become involved with the hospital “helped sculpt our hearts to want to use our platform for more than just the sound of a sold-out show or sold-out crowd or album sales.”
And while sold-out crowds and major album sales are aspirations the trio did achieve, their passion for St. Jude never faded. Throughout the past decade, the group has continued to visit St. Jude, participated in the viral This Shirt Saves Lives campaign to help raise awareness and funds for the hospital, while Haywood has also hosted a private dinner for some of the patients and their families at his home. But the most compelling factor that keeps the trio motivated to do the work is their children. With half a dozen children between them, Scott, Haywood and Kelley now see the hospital through the eyes of a parent.
“You can’t help but think ‘how would I react, how would I be if I was in this situation,’ so you feel a lot for the parents and the strength that they show. I think that’s the best thing about this place is that it’s all free and I think to take that burden off of them is huge,” Kelley observes.
“We appreciate this award because it also as parents gives us the opportunity to engage in a conversation with our children as they grow up the importance of giving back and serving others and using your platform for good. We pray that it fosters a giving heart in them as they grow up,” Scott shared in the group’s acceptance speech. “We’re humbled by this award and will not sit idly by in our efforts to continue to help St. Jude and other organizations advocating for children in need. Being recognized like this truly lights a bigger fire under us to do more because there is still so much more to be done.”
Lady A was also surprised with a $50,000 donation in their name from ACM Lifting Lives to St. Jude.