Rex honors home-grown rock and roll band as Palmetto Ambassadors for public schools

August 14, 2008

 COLUMBIA, SC – August 14, 2008 – State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex will join Grammy-winning rockers Hootie & the Blowfish in Charleston on Friday, August 15, during the final stop of the band’s Homegrown Tour to name the musical group a Palmetto Ambassador for Education.

The band will be the first-ever recipient of the new recognition, created by Rex to recognize groups or individuals who make extraordinary contributions to South Carolina’s public schools.

I am thrilled to join Mark, Dean, Darius and Soni to present this honor, said Rex.  They have made a significant impact on public schools throughout our state over a sustained period with their time, their energy, their celebrity and their financial resources.

Rex will join the band onstage during its Friday night concert at Family Circle Magazine Cup Stadium, located at 161 Seven Farms Drive on Daniel Island, to present the award as a part of his ongoing statewide Back-to-School tour aimed at raising awareness about the need for public school funding reform.    The concert begins at 8 p.m., and Rex will present the award during the band’s first encore. 

The concert is the last stop of the band’s Homegrown Tour, a series of shows encouraging fans to bring school supplies that will be donated to local schools in need.  At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Rex will join the band at its Homegrown Roundup, Back to School Basics event to distribute the supplies at Burke High School, located at 244 President Street in Charleston. 

The supplies will assist seven elementary schools in downtown Charleston: Charleston Development Academy, Sanders Clyde, Memminger, Frazier, James Simmons, Charleston Progressive and Mitchell Elementary.  In addition, the Roundup will serve as a one-stop opportunity for other back-to-school needs, including dental exams, haircuts, and clothing.

Hootie & the Blowfish continues to shine a light on the inadequacies and inequities in our public schools through their work in economically disadvantaged communities across the state, Rex said.  I know they join me in recognizing that the time has come to address these challenges with a new system of funding our schools.

In 2003, when the band learned about budget cuts taking place in education, they established an annual concert in their hometown of Charleston as a way to raise awareness about the needs of local schoolchildren.  The band asked ticketholders to bring school supplies, and the response was overwhelming.  Since then, the band has expanded the initiative to other markets across the country.  In total, the band has gathered enough school supplies to fill 40 buses, with a value of more than $250,000.

The Homegrown Concert is proof positive that the community can make a real impact on the lives of our youth, and what better place to do it than right here at home? said lead singer Darius Rucker.  We want to thank Jim Rex for recognizing our efforts and for all the work he is doing every day in Columbia to address the challenges of our most needy schools and communities.

Hootie & the Blowfish is comprised of Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Darius Rucker and Jim Soni Sonefeld.  Since its debut on the national scene in 1994, the band has sold more than 25 million albums, making them one of the most successful music groups of all time. 

They have established the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation to benefit the children of South Carolina through education improvement, reform and advocacy.  They support projects in many communities across the Palmetto State, including Charleston, Allendale, Florence, Jasper and Lee counties.  In addition, the band has been a leading advocate for music education in South Carolina and throughout the nation.