Country Music Star
Celebrating 25 years in the music business, Aaron Tippin thinks of himself as the “luckiest hillbilly that ever lived.”
Tippin says that nobody was any more surprised that he got an invitation to join the roster of Nashville powerhouse RCA back in 1990 than him. In fact, at the time he inked his deal, he had almost given up hope of success as a vocalist, concentrating on his budding career as a songwriter – with cuts from the likes of The Kingsmen, Mark Collie, and Charley Pride.
He also couldn’t believe that his first single, “You’ve Got To Stand For Something,” hit the Billboard Country Singles chart – eventually peaking at # 6. The success of that record also brought him a career opportunity that completely blew his mind. “When the song started to get played in Los Angeles, we got a call from Bob Hope’s daughter Linda. She heard the song, and asked if I’d be interested in going over and entertaining the troops. It didn’t take him long to give her an answer. “I said ‘Are you kidding me? Bob Hope? I never in a zillion years dreamed I would be on the Bob Hope show.”
And, just like that, Aaron Tippin was off to the races. The hits continued to pile up – “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With The Radio,” “My Blue Angel,” and “Workin’ Man’s PhD,” among them. He was building his brand on songs that touched a nerve with his blue-collar audience – and that one of a kind vocal style that definitely was Country. “You either liked it or you hated it. I is what I is,” he says with a smile. “I think several times during my record career, we tried to change and follow trends and stuff. But, it never seemed to work for me. The most success I had in the business was with songs that I crafted. I’m very proud of that. I think it makes a fan able to identify with me easier because these songs are about me – my life, who I am, and how I was raised. I tell people I get recognized a whole lot faster in a truck stop than I do in my tuxedo walking into the back of the Opry. You better check my credentials when I have a tuxedo on, because it don’t look right.”
Another important piece of the Tippin story is his wife – and business partner Thea. “She is as much Aaron Tippin as I am,” he says. Family is the center of Tippin’s universe – with two teenage sons, Ted and Tom, a grown daughter, Charla, and a granddaughter.
As the new millennium dawned, Tippin returned to the top of the charts with “Where The Stars And Stripes And Eagle Fly,” a song that became part of the American soundtrack during the aftermath of 9/11. “I wanted to talk to Americans about who we are at heart, and the fact that when the going gets tough, that’s when we really stand up. We may have a lot of differences when everything is calm and fine, but when it hits the fan, I think we’re the best in the world at sticking together, and rallying around the cause. That song served that purpose very well. I wanted us to be proud as Americans, and get back on with living free.”
Another place that Aaron Tippin loves is on the road. The singer still delights in that hour and a half performing on the stage – and those who come out to see him. But don’t call them “fans” – he thinks of them as family. “They have been so great to me over the years, and they’re still coming out to the shows. That’s why I still sign autographs every night. I just want to get out there and shake their hand and give them a big hug – just to say thank you. They’re not strangers anymore – they’ve been coming for twenty five years.”
Model, Actress, Sports Host, Reporter, Commentator, Scout
A childhood member of the San Francisco Ballet, Bonnie-Jill parlayed her looks, training, and love of sports into a career as a professional cheerleader – First with the Golden State Warriors (winning NBA Cheerleader of the Year), then to the San Francisco 49ers Goldrush Cheerleading squad, (attaining her Super Bowl ring) She then moved to Texas to pursue studies at University of Texas earning her Bachelors degree in Broadcast Journalism and dancing for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, where she was also selected to grace the cover of their internationally known swimsuit calendar.
Moving to Los Angeles for broadcasting opportunities, she became a feature reporter for the sports department of the CBS stations, often sent to focus on the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. During this time, she worked for ESPN, NFL Network, SPIKE-TV, and more, as a host, reporter, and commentator, proving she knew her way all around the proverbial sports pages.
Her reporting on the Lakers drew the attention of Owner Jerry Buss, who was so impressed with Bonnie-Jill’s eye and insight that he chose he to become the first and only female scout in the NBA for the Lakers. Her success as a scout was immediate, and the Lakers’ Basketball Operations Department expanded her responsibilities to include Assistant General Manager for the Lakers’ Minor League Team, the Los Angeles D- Fenders. Bonnie-Jill’s Laker years netted her five NBA World Championship rings.
Though her success in sports was calling, Los Angeles was not willing to let someone as beautiful as Bonnie-Jill slip out of its reach – a ridiculously successful model and actress, Bonnie-Jill has been featured in FHM, Maxim, GQ, Esquire and Sports Illustrate; just to name a few. Her successful modeling career led to recurring roles on various shows including “Baywatch” and “Ally McBeal.”Bonnie-Jill has appeared in dozens of commercials and ad campaigns, 6 country music videos including one with Dierks Bentley (named “Sexiest Video of the Year” by CMT), and enough print that both FXM and MAXIM named her to their “Sexiest Women” lists.
Additionally, Laflin hosted a Fantasy Football and Basketball show on Sirius/XM Satellite, ESPN Austin hosting pre and post game shows for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. She has written many stories for ESPN.com and makes appearances as a contributor for Fox News. Giving back is imperative to Bonnie-Jill. She a dedicated supporter of the troops and has traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries on 20 Goodwill and USO tours. She continues to visit our veterans and and wounded warriors stateside at VA hospitals. Bonnie-Jill is also heavily involved in animal welfare issues and has been featured in numerous national campaigns encouraging compassion for all animals. Her philanthropy work for both the military and animal welfare is a passion for Bonnie-Jill which caused her to form her charity “Hounds and Heroes”.
Bonnie-Jill Laflin is currently (2016) a reporter for Fox Sports and BBC Sports.
Randy joined KJ-97 in 1983, and most of that time has been spent on the Morning Show. Throughout the years, he has developed close relationships with many popular Country performers and also with thousands of San Antonio listeners. As a result, he continues to be one of the most talented, popular and well-respected personalities in the market, winning several local broadcast awards as well as CMA and ACM Personality of the Year. He was inducted to the Country Radio Hall Of Fame in Nashville in June of 2015.
Professional Wrestler, TV Show Host
Ric Savage started life as Frank Huguelet in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, the son of an English professor and a librarian. After high school and a semester in college on a wrestling scholarship, Ric joined the US Army, became an Artillery cannoneer, and was eventually stationed at Fort Bragg, NC with the 18th Airborne Corps Artillery.
Ric would serve his entire hitch at Fort Bragg having orders placing him on the 82nd Airborne’s post wrestling team after a year. He would receive a devastating knee injury which caused him to be medically discharged/retired from the Army in 1991. It was shortly after that he would become a professional wrestler.
Ric would spend eight years on the Professional Wrestling circuit in promotions like WCW, ECW, NWA, and USWA.
After leaving wrestling Ric left the entertainment world and spent a decade in the automotive aftermarket in outside sales. He was recruited by Scott Gurney, the creator of Duck Dynasty, in 2011 and would become the host of Spike TV’s SAVAGE FAMILY DIGGERS and AMERICAN DIGGER. Ric is now the co-host of The SAVAGE-TURNER Rock Express Podcast with Erik Turner of the band, WARRANT, Rock singer, and motivational speaker on anti-bullying in grade/high schools across the country. Ric is also available for bookings across the world.
PHILLIP HODGE aka THUGGIZZLE
Phillip Hodge was born with the ability to compose spontaneous poetry. The 28-year-old lyricist has developed a career in music as the rapper Thuggizzle in San Antonio, Texas. He prides himself on rhyming “off the dome,” also known as free styling. It is the most prized skill in rapping, the ability to think of clever, intricate rhymes on the spot, often in competition with another rapper, and while in front of a crowd.
In addition to his music, Hodge devotes time to over 17 organizations he founded for different causes. After watching an aunt fight breast cancer, Hodge started the organization “Thugizzle Cares” to provide support to those going through breast cancer treatment. He said every day he is out selling records, and he donates 10 to 15 percent of profits to help pay for medical bills.
“This is coming from the heart,” he said. “I let God decide who we go out there to help. At the end of the day, I’m no different than the next man, except I have God in my life.”
Hodge also founded the organization “No Different Than You” which seeks to help families of children with special needs connect with someone who can relate to some of the same issues. He also founded the organization “Reunited by Faith” which helps parents whose children have been removed from their custody get the services they need to work toward reunification with their children.
Pop/Rock Singer & Songwriter
Justin Lane known by his stage name as J.P. is an American singer/songwriter in American Pop/Rock.
I do what I wAnt! is completed and available in the online store and in Rudy’s BBQ. The album includes “Ukulele.”
The multitalented singer, songwriter and musician was born to a musical family in Dayton, OH. Mother being a flutist and vocalist and father a guitarist and singer. Although J.P. was too young to see his father perform at his events, he grew up playing in the church band together. J.P. started out as a drummer for many years.
After he graduated high school, J.P. left his home town of Green Bay, WI and joined the U.S. Army. He soon was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. While there, J.P. was on a mission as a Combat Engineer searching for IEDs and was hit. Driving his truck, a 200lb IED struck directly under his seat and penetrated the armored vehicle. The outcome of this horrific blast was the loss of both his legs, right middle finger and 24 other injuries, mostly internal.
With intense physical training, hard work and dedication to never giving up, J.P. has been able to overcome obstacles never thought by doctors. Walking around with ease and pursuing a lifestyle not sought by most in his situation, J.P. is becoming what he has always wanted to be…a pop/rock artist.
J.P. has performed at the Presidential Ball for the 2012-2013 Presidential Inauguration. Also, at black tie events around Texas.
J.P.’s ultimate goal…”to inspire everyone I can to never give up their goals and dreams.”
“Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge”
Kevin Briggs, aka “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge” is a retired California Highway Patrol officer who spent many years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. While on patrol, he encountered numerous individuals clinging to life by a thread – individuals who had lost hope and could see no way out of their current situation – ready to jump off the bridge to what they assumed was a sudden death and ending of their pain and hopelessness.
Briggs, through his compassion, gentle voice, eye contact, and his innate ability of “listening to understand” encouraged more than 200 individuals over his career to either not go over the bridge’s rail or come back to solid ground from where they had been standing precariously out on the chord of the bridge and start a new chapter in their life.
Today, Briggs is mapping a movement as he speaks publicly about his suicide prevention and crisis encounters with people on the bridge, as an international Crisis Management, Suicide Prevention, and Leadership Skills presenter.
Comedian / Motivational Speaker
The Well-Done Comedian. Prankster. Social Media Guru. Airborne. 4-Tour Iraqi War Veteran. Burn Survivor. Humble and Kind.
These are just a few of the words that describe SSG Bobby Henline, (Ret.) Having just celebrated his 10th Burniversary in 2017, Henline continues to make people laugh with his comedy and throw their hand over their heart in honor of Veterans across our great nation.
Bobby is the co-founder of Bravo748, a military and combat veteran speaker’s bureau.
As a Motivational Speaker/Comedian, he collaborates with various military and military-related organizations to inspire soldiers, veterans, and their families, spreading his message of life, love, and joy; he visits high schools across the country; speaks at mental health and other healthcare organizations, military and veteran associations, as well as a host of other venues, sharing his story of resiliency, hope, and healing.
Bobby is pictured with his service dog, Daisy.
Country Music Artist
Ryan Weaver is a high energy, all-American, rockin’ country music artist who proudly served as an active duty Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 3, in the United States Army. Ryan Weaver started in country music in 2005 while still on active duty, playing the club and festival circuit throughout the southeast. His performances are known for their unique blend of high caliber audience connecting original songs and rockin’ cover material combined with a heartfelt message and genuine humor.
Ryan’s story is like no other artist in country music. Growing up with a family of 11 in a small town in Floral City, Florida, Ryan joined the Army right after high school. After several years of working in the Military Intelligence field, Ryan followed in the footsteps of both of his two older brothers, Steve and Aaron, by attending Warrant Officer Candidate School and flight school. He graduated top of his class in flight school, becoming a Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot, and in 2003 he found himself deployed to Baghdad International Airport in Iraq with one of his brothers, Aaron, who was deployed just west of him in Fallujah.
On January 8, 2004, Aaron was killed in action when the Medivac helicopter in which he was a passenger was shot down by enemy fire. Ryan certainly understood mortality and the risks of combat. After all, Aaron survived the bloody 1993 battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, that became the basis for the movie, Black Hawk Down. When Aaron died, however, something changed for Ryan. He returned from combat, taking a position training the next generation of Army aviators and officers at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and has not piloted a Black Hawk since that fateful day.
Ten years and one day after the last day Ryan saw Aaron alive in Iraq on January 4, Ryan’s brother-in-law Randy Billings was laid to rest one row back from Aaron. Randy was KIA in Afghanistan on December 17, 2013 when the Blackhawk helicopter he was piloting was shot down by an enemy ground detonated explosive device. With a second heartbreaking loss to his family, Ryan became even more determined to succeed. Both of his brothers’ ultimate sacrifices fuel his fire to accomplish his dreams to be a nationally recognized country music artist.
Ryan’s most recent advancements are an indicator that he is on the edge of something truly special in country music. He released his first single to radio with a music video reaching national television audiences on ZUUS Country and The Heartland Network, performed on the Samsung Galaxy stage in 2014 as an official CMA Festival artist in Nashville, began working with Charlie Daniels’ long time manager David Corlew and performed on The Ryman Auditorium stage along with Charlie Daniels, Phyl Vassar, Ty Herndon, Andy Griggs and Jamie O’Neal. His notable 2015 performances were at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the historical 40th Anniversary Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam, the Castle Rock Colorado Freedom Festival and made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage on September 11, 2015.
Rock Music Artist
John Preston is a Pacific Records recording artist and full time firefighter. John was a Marine Corps field wireman from 2000-2004 achieving the rank of Sergeant in his four years of service. John was with Second Battalion Seventh Marines (2/7) and served as a mission squad leader for 2/7 H&S running over 100 combat missions while in theatre.
John began his music career while in Iraq writing his song “Good Good America” which became an overnight success and gave John his first shot at the music industry, signing a record deal upon his return from Iraq. The song and video inspired by Iraqi school children was a national media topic and was viewed hundreds of thousands of times in 2004.
John returned to the music industry in 2014 signing with Pacific Records and quickly releasing his first single “this IS war” in October of 2014. The song also became a national media topic when the Marine veteran made a call to action to veterans across the nation to stand against ISIS which had just made a surge through Syria and Iraq. The music video had thousands of views and secured John a second release with Pacific Records.
Just one month later, John released his Los Angeles Music Awards nominated EP “Your War is Over” and again took to the media. This time the topic was very different. John and two Marine bandmates had released a veteran’s tribute album that he referred to as being “for us by us.” John highlighted veterans’ struggles with Post Traumatic Stress and suicide and took the fight public with several TV and radio appearances across the United States. John and Pacific Records partnered with Boot Campaign and donated 30% of album sales to help combat Post Traumatic Stress. John and his band took to the road and raised thousands of dollars up and down the coast of California for several different veteran charities all while never accepting any payment and giving all proceeds from the events back to the cause.
Still receiving accolades and media for his “Your War is Over” EP, John took to the studio again and in September 2015 released in the Top 100 New Alternative Albums chart with his second EP “Day to Night.” With this EP, John told the story of a Marine he was connected to that was killed on his last day of combat. Again, John took to the media continuing with his fight against PTS, veteran suicide, and also reminding the people of America that the country is still at war. The album was released on the one year anniversary of the death of the Marine for whom he had written the song. John’s video for “Day to Night” has had hundreds of thousands of views. Rather than celebrate his success, John continued to play charity events and do media all over the country, now becoming a national advocate against veteran suicide.
John’s life took a turn of tragic irony when in January of 2016 John’s own brother fell victim to post traumatic stress and took his own life. The passing of his brother was enough to make him consider ending his career, but has instead fueled his hard work and passion and his new single “Superman Falls” on a compilation album titled “Battlecry: Songs of America’s Heroes.” Preston Executive produced the album and was the driving force which saw the album reach #21 on the iTunes rock charts and continues to spread not only through the veteran community but the mainstream.
“We are taking our message to the public and today we told the mainstream that we are here and we are loud. The perception of the broken veteran is a myth that we refuse to buy into. Our album is about our lives and the real battles we have and continue to fight: on and off the battlefield. We are here to show our community and the general public our talent, work ethic and our drive to push forward through all adversity.”
Singer, Actor, TV Host
Canadian born and when not in Nashville, Saskatchewan-based, Blake Emmons is known for his acting, hosting and music. He played the male lead “Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd” in the New York Broadway production “The Best Little Whore House In Texas” and in the New York Theatrical Production road tour for one year. He appeared nationally on CBC television’s “Countrytime” and was the front and center host for 5 seasons on the CTV series “Funny Farm” which achieved international syndication. Emmons went on to host his own sports show “Fish ‘N Stars”, a syndicated fishing show featuring such guests as James Whitmore, Soupy Sales, Bob McGrath, Lee Marvin and Bobby Hull in remote areas of the far north. He also co-hosted the Nashville syndicated music show “The Country Place” with Jim Ed Brown for Show Biz, Inc.
The 80’s had Emmons on the American game show hosting the popular Chain Reaction tv show while appearing in weekly sit-coms such as The Golden Girls, Alice, Mary Tyler Moore and TV Bloopers and Blunders for Dick Clark. He also Hosted the Playboy Shopping Show, a 90 minute live daily production for the Playboy Network.
Emmons was instrumental in creating and hosting the Kinsmen Telemiracle Telethon in Saskatchewan, as well as The Variety Show of Hearts Telethon in Iowa in support of “differently-abled” children. It is well documented that Blake has been personally involved in raising over $500 million in support of children’s charities worldwide.
His own personal battle with PTSD over the years since his participation in the Viet Nam conflict was part of the inspiration behind his founding and organizing the first ever Wounded Warriors Weekend held in Nipawin, Saskatchewan in August 2012. The incredible success of the event coupled with the awareness raised regarding the challenges of PTSD faced by troops convinced Blake and his team of like-minded volunteers in Nipawin to present Wounded Warriors Weekend 2013. In the ensuing years, Wounded Warriors Weekend has welcomed well over 1,500 Wounded Warriors and their families. Participants have included Veterans, active duty military, firefighters, police officers, trauma nurses, correctional officers, and first responders, all challenged by the affects of PTSD .
Simply stated, Blake says “I am truly blessed that my life has been an adventure…and still is.”