As a multi-platinum recording artist, an extraordinary showman and a hit songwriter, Big Kenny Alphin – along with his counterpart John Rich – shares his heart, soul and artistry in the spectacular partnership of Big & Rich. Now, a decade and a half into this remarkably successful career, the extensive “Peace, Love and Happy Hour” tour reaffirms the hard rocking country duo’s sterling legacy of electrifying, crowd-pleasing performances.
While “big” is an apt description of both Kenny’s towering stature and his colossal in-the-spotlight charisma, it also describes the vast sweep of his humanitarian contributions, powerfully demonstrated through his “Love Everybody Foundation.” From backpack programs for underprivileged kids in Florida to building U.S. military memorials, he has supported children’s hospitals, scholarships, elementary schools, food banks and symphony orchestras; advocated for Native American people, responded to emergencies like the Haiti Earthquake and the conflict in Darfur; bought girls out of slavery in Sudan, built schools in Africa, and chartered planes to fly in supplies.
Along with the Faith-based Coalition for Global Nutrition, in 2019, Big Kenny traveled to Washington D.C. to encourage members of Congress to strengthen nutrition funding for the world’s most vulnerable populations when planning the Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill for State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPs).
Kenny does much more than just play benefits and sign checks. He bears powerful witness to a compassionate mission that knows no borders in quests for long-term solutions and sustainability. “I can’t make enough money myself to solve the problems, so I’ve got to inspire other people to do it,” he confirms.
He is a first hand witness to the impact of programs that he describes as “…the most promising potential of American leadership in the world. We feed somebody’s kid who is in dire straits and help them up from death. Those families never forget that. We’re creating friendship on a world stage. I’d like to think that in 10 or 20 years instead of our children pointing guns at each other, they might be shaking hands, creating businesses and figuring out how to sustain future generations.”
Growing up on a Culpeper, Virginia cattle farm as the youngest of four children, Kenny developed a powerful work ethic. Encouraged by his mom, he sang in the church choir and learned the saxophone. When a high school jazz band performed at his middle school, he was instrumental in organizing his classmates into a similar aggregation. Although he was selected for state band and attended the Governor’s School For The Gifted, by his senior year he had to take a break from music as he only attended school for half days. He was already working a man’s job, heading up work crews.
“I wasn’t raised up where music was a career – music was a nice thing to have in your life, but you were expected to work a real job to make a living,” he recalls. “When I did work a real job and the economy crashed in the late Eighties, that’s what drove me to say, ‘I’ve done this and it can be ripped out from under you just as easily. So I may as well go and play music.’”
Having only performed with local bands, Kenny moved to Nashville where he was signed as a songwriter. “I was in a one room apartment by myself. I’d focus all my energy, write songs all day, then go out at night and have experiences to write about.” After five years of penning lyrics and melodies for others, Kenny was inked to Hollywood Records as a solo artist.
Kenny, John Rich and their friends created a community known as MuzikMafia, an improbable coalition of musicians performing in multiple genres including bluegrass, rap and R&B. Operating far outside of Nashville’s exclusionary parameters, it was a circle of creators that Kenny dubbed “Music Without Prejudice.” Within three years, a number of these artists had signed with major labels, including Gretchen Wilson who topped the charts with “Here for the Party,” co-written with Kenny and John Rich.
As Warner Bros. recording artists, Big & Rich debuted with the triple platinum Horse of a Different Color. Over time, dozens of Grammy, ACM, CMA and CMT Music Award nominations followed with collections like Comin’ to Your City, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, Hillbilly Jedi, Gravity – which included three consecutive Top 10 hits – and their most recent collection, Did It For The Party, that debuted at Number One on the sales charts.
As a lifestyle entrepreneur, Kenny partnered in Deadwood Mountain Grand, the number one luxury resort in South Dakota -- a hotel casino and 2,500-seat performance venue. He has also launched his “Peace, Love & Happy Hour” merchandise line to support the “Love Everybody Foundation.” U.S. veterans and first responders remain especially close to his heart. “I was a volunteer firefighter as a kid,” Kenny notes. “We’ve got to support people who are on the front lines, wherever they are.”
While he has received innumerable tributes as an artist, a songwriter and a humanitarian, one of his most treasured honors is as the second U.S. recipient of the African Children’s Choir Malaika Award, a commemoration that he shares with President George W. Bush.
In the Swahili language, “malaika” means “angel.” While Big Kenny is certainly more likely to wear one of his signature top hats rather than a shiny halo, he balances the enormity of his philanthropic endeavors with all of the joy, celebration and sense of community that reaffirms his fundamental philosophy. “Big Kenny has a big life,” he concludes. “I like to keep the fun at the front with the inspiration to back it up. It’s simple: Love everybody – the ultimate of all life goals.”
William Kenneth Alphin (born in Culpeper, Virginia, on November 1, 1963) known professionally as Big Kenny, is a singer, songwriter, humanitarian, farmer, lover of everybody, husband, father, brother, gardener, carpenter, welder, auctioneer, Chief Imagination Officer at the University of Creativity, Producer, MuzikMafia God Father. In 2003, He and John Rich comprise the Grammy-nominated super duo, Big & Rich, which has recorded four studio albums for Warner Bros. Records and has charted ten singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.
Before Big & Rich, Big Kenny recorded a solo album, Live a Little, for Hollywood Records in 1999 (although it was not released until 2005). He founded and fronted a band called LuvjOi. Releasing 2 Independent records LuvjOi Volume 1, and LuvjOi volume 2. Some of LuvjOi‘s band members went on to work for Big and Rich 2003-2007 touring and recording. Kenny has written top 10 hits for himself as well as Tim McGraw (“Last Dollar (Fly Away)”), Gretchen Wilson (“Here For The Party”), Jason Aldean (“Hicktown”, “Amarillo Sky”). Big Kenny wrote or co-wrote a majority of all four studio albums for Big & Rich, and been named BMI’s Songwriter of the Year. As half of the Highly acclaimed duo Big and Rich, Kenny has sold in excess of five million albums. His other Project, The Quiet Times of a Rock and Roll Farm Boy was released to country radio in 2009. His single, “Long After I’m Gone,” charted in Country top 40.
Kenny has shared the stage, and collaborated on projects with artists such as U2, Jon Bon Jovi, Green Day, R.E.M., Christina Aguilera, Aerosmith, Black Eyed Peas, Lenny Kravitz, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Wyclef Jean, Kid Rock, Alison Krauss, Youssou N’Dour, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Keith Urban, 3 doors down, Richie Sambora, Dave Foster, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, John Legend, Dave Foster, Mumford and Sons, Chess Boxer, Lil Jon, Dave Stewart, and Ky-mani Marley.