Thomas Rhett and his wife, Lauren Akins, are squeezed together in a seat built for one on Rhett’s tour bus, parked behind a rustic farm-to-table eatery 20 minutes outside Nashville called The Old School, where the couple hosted a benefit for 147 Million Orphans. “Obviously, my thing is writing songs and playing shows,” says Rhett, as he looks to Lauren, “and her thing is having a massive heart for less fortunate children.”
Lauren met the nephew of 147 cofounder Suzanne Mayernick at the University of Tennessee. In 2015, she learned the organization was planning a medical-mission trip to Haiti and jumped to get her nursing degree to use and to join the expedition. I remember the first time I took a little boy’s temperature,” said Lauren. “It chokes me up every time I think about it, because I can still see his face.”
Upon her return to Tennessee, her husband says the excursion was “all we talked about for two weeks.”
But the couple, who don’t have children yet, needed to do even more, preferring to stage the catered dinner and show, and ensuring a sold out crowd with fellow country star Dierks Bentley and surprise guest Florida Georgia Line. The benefit brought in more than $250, 000, which 147 will put to use delivering necessities to orphaned kids around the world.
He says, “They were all like, ‘Are you going to bring your guitar?’ So I feel like I’m going to have to bring it.” Stated Lauren: “And show off a little bit.”