Beyoncé Knowles with the Chicago Children's Choir
By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
Beyoncé gives back
But what a lot of fans might not realize about this church-choir-standout-turned Destiny's Child frontwoman – a woman of faith who has gone on record as saying she's "not gonna compromise my Christianity" – is her heart for the poor and needy around her. To put her money where her conviction is, Beyonce recently launched the Show Your Helping Hand Campaign (www.showyourhelpinghand.com) to help fight hunger in America.
"Since I was nine years old, my family would take my sister and me to local shelters to feed the hungry," shares Beyoncé at a private press conference prior to a recent show in Chicago. "Giving back is something I was taught at an early age. I truly believe that God blesses us to bless other people. I never thought at age nine that I would one day be able to team up with General Mills and Hamburger Helper and help with hunger on such a large scale."
Though the help of those two companies spearheads the effort, Beyoncé's celebrity status is what's sending the operation into overdrive. In addition to collecting food at every stop on the tour, she's set up a method for fans to donate $5 by texting the word "SHOW" to 90999.
"I've seen hungry children all around the world from Africa to Asia to India and it's such a sad thing because food is something that we all take for granted every day," Beyoncé continues. "When I found out that one in eight Americans struggle with hunger, I was very surprised...In this economic downturn, we suffer right here in America, especially since it's the summertime and children don't have access to school lunches…We've already received over 9,000 pounds of food – I can't believe that – and our goal is to deliver 3.5 million meals to local food banks. We're already at 3.1 million, but we can't do this by ourselves."
Though Beyoncé has encouraged audiences of all ages to participate in the outreach, she asked the media to put specific emphasis on teens and young adults to get involved.~(continued from page 1)
"If you want high self-esteem, you have to feel good about who you are and there's nothing in the world that makes you feel better about yourself than giving – and giving for the right reasons," she added just prior to a performance from the Chicago Children's Choir. "I usually am very shy about the charitable things I am a part of, but I realize that young people need to know so they can see that it's cool to know the dances and hot designers, but it's even more important to do something positive with that energy."
Sidewalk Prophets sign
There's no feeling quite like seeing a band before fame hits, and in the case of Sidewalk Prophets, building a grassroots fan base was literally a seven-and-a-half-year process. It may seem like a near eterntity in a here today, gone tomorrow musical climate, but one that built such a solid foundation that the pop/rock troupe eventually caught the ear of the Fervant Records family, resulting in an August 25 street date for its national debut These Simple Truths.
"Over those past seven-plus years, we've spent so many nights in people's basements and even slept in a janitor's closet one night, but we've always felt called to do this regardless of being on a label or not," admits rhythm guitarist Ben McDonald (though he's absolutely elated over the contract signing). "We could be the poorest guys on earth, but nothing makes us feel more alive than worshipping God and hanging out with people, which is when we can really use our gifts to glorify Him and further the kingdom."
Falling somewhere between the infectious youth-inclined rock n' roll of Audio Adrenaline and the more dynamic side of MercyMe, the band is poised for radio success. Still, These Simple Truths is packed with plenty of more meaningful morsels than just those suited for airwave attraction, including messages of self-assurance, personal empowerment and remembering everyone's part of God's creation no matter their shape, size or color.
"As far as our mission goes, we feel really called to help people feel more comfortable with who God called them to be," summarizes McDonald. "We've always been bigger guys [in stature], but that makes us feel all the more called to make people comfortable in their own skin. If you really look at it, most people live life going with the currents and following whoever they're told without question, even though God is who they should seek. We're here to remind people that if you follow God, everything else will fall into place."
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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