Valdosta Daily Times

April 8, 2014

Akins named Distinguished Alumnus

Staff reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Country music singer and songwriter Rhett Akins will be honored as the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus by the Lowndes Education Improvement Foundation (LEIF) at a banquet in the Lowndes High cafeteria at 6 p.m. on April 22.

 According to the Lowndes County School system, Akins is being honored as a distinguished alumnus for his many successes and contributions to a number of organizations since his graduation from Lowndes High School in 1988.

“Akins excelled in academics and sports. He was an honor roll student with English and History being his strongest subjects.  His high school activities included Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Key Club, Spanish Club, Senior Class Vice President, baseball, football, and track.

“Under the direction of coaches Joe Wilson and Ronnie Pitcock, Rhett was the starting quarterback for the Vikings for two years, often playing the guitar in the locker room and at football camp.  On more than one occasion Coach Wilson scolded him saying, ‘Put that thing up!  That guitar is not gonna get you anywhere.’

 “Following graduation, Rhett enrolled at the University of Georgia and played football as a walk-on. Following college, he followed his passion and moved to Nashville (Tenn.) where he began writing songs, obtained a record contract and began touring with Reba McIntire.  He has recorded five studio albums of which he wrote the majority of the songs.  His signature song, “That Ain’t My Truck”, went gold and was inspired by his dating experience at Lowndes High School.  Most of the songs Rhett has written have been based on his upbringing in South Georgia and his southern heritage,” states a press release from LEIF.

Akins’ success in the music industry has given him the opportunity to be a spokesman for numerous organizations including Boys and Girls Clubs of America, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and Fallen Policeman among others. He and a fellow Valdostan were the founders of Country Goes Hunting, a charitable organization that has raised thousands of dollars over the past thirteen years.  The money raised has helped a wide range of people in need from the tornado victims of Alabama to disabled hunters.  Most recently, Akins has begun writing for other country music artists including Brooks and Dunn, Blake Shelton, and Tim McGraw.  

Over the past five years, he has written numerous songs that hit the top of the charts and have garnered him many awards included BMI song writer of the year, the Triple Play Award, and a nomination for the American Country Music song writer of the year. His son, Thomas Rhett, is following in his father’s footsteps and is quickly making a name for himself in country music.

LEIF will also be honoring students from each school for their academic achievements, as well as outstanding parents and teachers.  The foundation’s main goal is to support Lowndes County Schools by utilizing tax-deductible donations to provide improved educational opportunities for students within the school systems.  Tickets for the banquet may be purchased for $20 at the Board of Education office located at 1592 Norman Drive.  All proceeds of the event will benefit LEIF.