Crow's hometown benefits from her success
KENNETT, Mo. - Sheryl Crow recalls her childhood as a pretty
normal one: "I ran around until dark with my friends without
fear. I rode my bike behind the mosquito truck. I swam on the
of celebrities say they remember their roots. Crow, a big star
from a small town, certainly hasn't forgotten hers.
a regular visitor to Kennett, her Bootheel hometown of 11,260
that's known for the wide-open cotton fields on its outskirts.
It's where much of her family still lives.
a town that's benefited from raising a nine-time Grammy winner.
Since becoming a star, Crow has done much for her home region:
given benefit concerts, funded scholarships, donated clothes
for charity and pledged funds to help build a new city swimming
pool about a block off the town square.
call Kennett a great place to raise a family, but there's no
question some in the community struggle. Dunklin County had
an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent in March, more than 2 percent
higher than the state average. In the 2000 census, the average
Kennett family was living on about $41,350 a year at a time
when the Missouri average was roughly $58,000.
I travel all through the United States, I feel like we're so
representative of so many communities out there, fighting to
keep their vitality and their growth going, especially with
the economy as it is," she told a crowd of 900 last week
when she was honored at a Kennett Chamber of Commerce dinner.
has sold millions of albums since she released "Tuesday
Night Music Club" in 1993, and recorded many hits since,
including "If It Makes You Happy" and "My Favorite
Mistake." But Kennett residents said when she's home, this
is no superstar, she's just Sheryl. They provide no reports
of her swanning around town like a diva, just sightings at local
stores or with her family at holiday church services.
is one of four children from a musical family. Her brother,
Steve, owns a construction company in town. Her father is a
lawyer; her mother is active with her church and community groups,
and teaches piano.
sister, Kathy, is a songwriter and performer; her sister, Karen,
is a music teacher in nearby Cape Girardeau. Sheryl said it
was Karen, not her, who was considered the music department
standout when she attended the University of Missouri-Columbia.
mother, Bernice, said her daughter wrestles with whether to
reveal her financial involvement in the community. She said
Sheryl publicly attached her name to the city pool plan because
several people believed it would raise the project's profile.
At the very least, it increased the number of local references
to "Soak Up the Sun" - another Crow hit.
no set time frame for completing the pool, but the hope is that
in addition to giving families a place to swim, it will encourage
residents to spend time in Kennett's downtown square, which
is hurting as more businesses pop up farther from downtown.
like to think a lot of the things she's done are not known,
but it's a small town, so you never know," Crow's mother
and others stress that many residents work hard to help in Kennett,
not just the well-known hometown girl. But Crow's impact can
definitely be felt around town.
store in the town square, Bank of Antiques, offers quite a collection
of Crow's clothes, including a sheer black Versace dress, a
burgundy suede Dolce & Gabbana coat, and even a Michael
Jackson tour jacket, decorated with dozens of pins from concerts
aren't the average castoffs, they're "Sheryl Apparel"
- clothes donated by the rock star that are sold, with the proceeds
for Delta Children's Home, a temporary residence for area foster
children. Her fans have given thousands to the home as well,
in honor of Crow's birthday.
the jacket attests, while Crow may have gotten her start in
Los Angeles doing a Toyota jingle in the late 1980s, her big
break came when she was selected as a backup singer for Michael
Jackson's "Bad" tour.
still drives a Toyota, a hybrid Prius. And she likely gave away
the concert jacket only because she knew it could bring a lot
for the children's charity, said Bank of Antiques owner Mary
used to be that Sheryl would walk in the door with a box, or
her Mom or Dad would. Now, we get a huge box from her secretary
in Los Angeles," Byrd said. She said Crow sends clothes
about three times a year.
some of Crow's clothes sell for just a few dollars apiece, Byrd
and Kennett resident Jill Mobley have launched a new Web site
to auction and sell Crow's best designer and keepsake items
has also sponsored several student scholarships at the Kennett
Area Higher Education Center since the spring of 2001. The scholarships
pay the fees for one undergraduate or graduate class at the
center, a relatively new partnership between Southeast Missouri
State University and Three Rivers Community College aimed at
helping area residents to earn degrees.
scholarships have been awarded in her name so far," said
center director Marsha Blanchard. "For some students, it
makes all the difference. We have a lot of non-traditional students,
who have families and jobs. Some, I've heard say, they wait
to register to see if they get the scholarship or not."
said she thinks many high-profile people give back. But even
Missouri's governor singled out Crow's efforts.
not only says she supports her community, she lives up to it
by her investment and her commitment to it," Gov. Bob Holden
said. "She has not forgotten from where she came, and who
helped her get where she is."