Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks are out in west Charlotte this week. But instead of twirling microphones and wearing cowboy hats, they’re swinging hammers and donning hard hats and work boots.
What’s happening: The country music stars are honorary hosts for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, a massive homebuilding effort organized by Habitat for Humanity that takes place in a different city each year.
- They’re among more than 2,180 volunteers on the project.
The goal: To build 27 single-family affordable homes over five days. The development is called The Meadows at Plato Price, and it’ll be out near the airport on land formerly occupied by Plato Price School, an all-Black school for grades 1 through 12.
- The homes are 3-4 bedrooms, around 1,500-1,800 square feet. Habitat helps cover the cost of each home for the families who buy them.
“We know that if you have a roof over your head, you have something to pass down to your children,” Trisha says.
Why it matters: Like many other fast-growing cities, Charlotte struggles mightily with providing enough affordable housing, a challenge that makes it hard for people who are born into poverty to eventually escape it. This project aims to provide a long-term housing solution to a few dozen families.
- Former President Carter, who just turned 99, and his wife, Rosalynn, have retired, so Yearwood and Brooks are now working to continue their legacy.
- This year marks the return of the Carter Work Project after a three-year hiatus because of the pandemic.
What he’s saying: “I gotta tell you, in our world right now, (this many) people getting along … it’s pretty cool,” Garth tells Axios. “It shows you if you put the mission first, then all the things that divide us, we don’t focus on. We focus on what we have in common, and that’s to get these homes built.”
Flashback: The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, previously called the Jimmy Carter Work Project, first came to Charlotte in the project’s early years, back in 1987.
- Like Yearwood and Brooks, Jimmy and Rosalynn would roll up their sleeves and work just like all the other volunteers — sawing, hammering and tearing down plaster, as the Observer reported.
- The Carters have laid the groundwork for years for how to lead such a project, Trisha says. “There’s a real sense that they’re here,” she says of the Carters.
Between the lines: Yearwood and Brooks, among the most beloved country music stars in the modern era, have been performing in Charlotte for decades. Brooks added a second show to his stop at Bank of America Stadium last summer because there was so much demand for the first one.
The two say they love coming back to Charlotte.
- “Before you were born, I was playing this city,” Brooks told me. “You knew the crowd, you knew they were enthusiastic and you knew if you put a hammer in their hand, they’re gonna whip some ass. This is the quickest I’ve seen houses this size go up.”