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American icon KENNY ROGERS has enjoyed phenomenal success as a global entertainer. Over the span of nearly five decades, Rogers has recorded 60 albums, which have sold over 105 million records worldwide. In March 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America awarded him the prestigious Diamond Award celebrating sales of more than 10 million for his "Greatest Hits" album.
As one of country music's biggest crossover successes, Rogers has numerous accolades, including four Grammy Awards, 11 People's Choice Awards, 18 American Music Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and five Country Music Association Awards. In addition, he was named "Favorite Singer of All Time" in a PM Magazine/USA Today poll in 1986; in 1989 readers of People Magazine voted Rogers "Favorite Male Vocalist." Perhaps his most cherished award is also his most personal. In 1990, Rogers was honored with the Horatio Alger Award, given to those who have distinguished themselves despite humble beginnings. For both Rogers and his admirers, his success is all the more remarkable for his having been raised in a Houston public housing project with seven brothers and sisters.
Always rising to meet new artistic and personal challenges, Rogers embarked on yet another exciting endeavor, starring in the off-Broadway theatrical production of Christmas from the Heart Featuring the 'Toy Shoppe'." Based on an original story written by Rogers and Kelly Junkermann, the musical was presented by Hallmark Entertainment at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City for a six-week holiday run. Rogers toured the lavish production for the sixth year last November, on an incredible 23-city holiday tour. The Toy Shoppe book, the second in a series of illustrated children's books, was published in the fall of 2000 with a companion CD. The original music from the production, featuring 11 new songs co-written by Rogers, was released on Dreamcatcher Records, a division of the artist's newly formed Dreamcatcher Entertainment, Inc. The album was the follow-up holiday release to Rogers' Number One gold album, The Gift, which was nominated for both a Dove Award and for Country Album of the Year by the Gospel Music Association in 1996.
Rogers spends a great deal of his time recording and performing, but he has also enjoyed a substantial career as an actor, and is best known worldwide for his colorful portrayal as The Gambler's Brady Hawks. Rogers' popular "Gambler" mega-hit recording spawned the longest-running mini-series in the history of television in the United States. The five Gambler mini-series have attracted over 100 million viewers nationwide. In addition, Rogers recently guest-starred in an episode of the top-rated CBS series, Touched by an Angel, written especially around Rogers' Number One hit, "Buy Me a Rose."
Success of the magnitude of Kenny Rogers' brings with it an opportunity to draw some attention to the charitable causes that he champions. After the 1981 death of his friend, singer/ songwriter Harry Chapin, Rogers assumed his position at the forefront of the movement to aid the hungry. In 1985, Rogers participated in the historical recording of "We Are the World," the multi-celebrity performance which raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa. A year later, he co-chaired the "Hands Across America" fund-raiser for America's hungry. Rogers was also instrumental in aiding the hungry in his own backyard in Georgia by establishing the Athens Area Homeless Shelter in 1990.
Between his entertainment and charitable endeavors, Rogers has managed to find the time to become a well-respected photographer. He was invited to the White House to create a portrait of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for the CBS-TV Special A Day in the Life of Country Music that aired in 1993. He has also published two well-received photography books: Kenny Rogers' America, composed of black and white landscapes, and Your Friends and Mine, a collection of celebrity portraits. He has just completed his third photography book, highlighting country stars past and present, entitled This Is My Country.