Arlington, VA (Vocus) December 17, 2008
A host of musicians, comedians and actors will soon join forces as part of an annual USO holiday tour led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. Committed to giving back and showing their support to those serving overseas, Admiral Mullen and his guests will travel to five countries in six days, visiting posts, meeting senior officials and staging a series of entertainment concerts/events featuring Grammy Award-winning comedian Lewis Black, country music singer Kellie Pickler, award-winning actress Tichina Arnold, guitarist Zac Brown, stand-up comic Kathleen Madigan and actor/funnyman John Bowman.
"I can't thank our men and women in uniform enough for their service and sacrifice, especially at this time of year," said Admiral Mullen. "But hopefully this tour will give them some idea just how much America values all that they and their families do to defend the nation. I am very grateful to the USO for once again stepping up and making this tour happen."
In celebration of the holidays and the strides made by today's military personnel, Admiral Mullen and his star-studded lineup of famous volunteers will make tour stops at military installations around the world. In addition to treating troops to hi-energy performances and informal meet & greets, Admiral Mullen's guests will distribute free CDs and spread much-needed holiday cheer. They will also sign autographs and pose for photos.
Also accompanying Admiral Mullen on this special, one-of-a-kind tour is USO president Sloan Gibson, who will be making this his first USO holiday experience. Elected by the USO World Board of Governors to head the USO, Gibson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a former infantry officer in the U.S. Army. The 22nd Chief Executive Officer of the USO, Gibson is committed to furthering the USO's mission of supporting troops and delivering them the comforts of home.
Regarded as one of the most prolific entertainers working today, Lewis Black performs more than 200 nights a year. Born in Washington, D.C., he released seven comedy CDs and received a Grammy for his album "The Carnegie Hall Performance." The author of two best selling books, Black has penned more than 40 plays and co-starred in numerous films, including "Man of the Year" with Robin Williams and "Farce of the Penguins" with Samuel Jackson. This is Black's third USO tour.
Former "American Idol" contestant and country music star, Kellie Pickler released her debut album "Small Town Girl" in '06 and landed at No. 9 on the Billboard album charts. Three months after the CD's release, the album was certified gold and yielded three top-15 singles. Pickler followed up her success in '08 with her second self-titled album, earning her second consecutive top-ten Billboard album ranking. This is Pickler's second USO tour, having visited troops last year.
Born and raised in Queens, Tichina Arnold is a two-time NAACP Image Award-winner for her roles in the critically acclaimed comedy "Everybody Hates Chris" and the hit series "Martin." Adding to her list of TV credits are "Ryan's Hope," "All My Children," "The Cosby Show" and "Law & Order." On the big screen, Arnold starred in such hits as "Big Mamma's House," "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Wild Hogs." This is Arnold's second USO tour, having traveled to the Pacific in March 2008.
Zac Brown is the captivating front man of the Zac Brown Band, whose recent Billboard Hot Country hit "Chicken Fried" landed at No. 1 on the charts and helped launch their major label debut 'The Foundation' (Atlantic Records). With a signature sound that's equal parts country, bluegrass, southern rock, pop and reggae, the Zac Brown Band started as a grassroots phenomenon playing over 200 shows a year and now has "potential to broaden the definition of country music" (Orlando Sentinel).
Considered 'the funniest woman in America' by Jay Leno and Lewis Black, Kathleen Madigan is one of the most popular headliners in the U.S. Known for her comedic timing and quick wit, she is a regular guest on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "The Late Show with David Letterman." The host of her own weekly show on Sirius Radio Network, Madigan recently served as talent scout of NBC's "Last Comic Standing." This is Madigan's second USO tour.
Referred to as 'always fascinating' by the New York Times, John Bowman is an actor/comedian who is embarking on his first USO tour. He has appeared on numerous television shows including "Seinfeld," "Ellen" and "Miami Vice." Bowman's live theater credits include sharing the stage with actors James Earl Jones, Bruce Weitz and Leslie Uggams. Currently touring with fellow comic Lewis Black, the duo will visit comedy clubs throughout the U.S. for the remainder of the year.
This trip continues the USO's tradition of sending celebrity entertainers to troops serving far from home. Whether signing autographs, leading clinics or posing for photos, USO celebrity volunteers help service members and their families feel a little closer to home.
About the USO
The USO (United Service Organizations) provides morale, welfare and recreational services to U.S. military personnel and their families. The USO is a nonprofit, charitable organization, relying on the generosity of the American people to support its programs and services. The USO is supported by Worldwide Strategic Partners AT&T Inc., BAE Systems, Blackwater Worldwide, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Clear Channel Communications, Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Gallery Furniture, S & K Sales Co., and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. Other corporate donors, including the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381), have joined thousands of individual donors to support the USO. For more information, please visit http://www.uso.org.
othompson @ uso.org