What happens when two favorite former American Idol winners hit the stage together? Well, when those guys are Season 7's David Cook and Season 8's Kris Allen, a lot of good — and we're not just talking about the music.
On April 2, Cook and Allen teamed up to truly give back by putting on a charity benefit concert to fight poverty. The event, aptly called "A Sole-Ful Evening with Kris Allen & David Cook," kicked off a new partnership between Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Soles4Souls — a nonprofit that strives to fight the impact of poverty by collecting new and used shoes to donate to people in need.
According to Cook, being asked by Nashville-based Soles4Souls to be involved helped open his eyes to the importance of what the organization is doing. "You do a little research and you kind of figure out about them, and you see they're doing really great things," he told us. "I mean, it sounds very remedial — they're taking shoe donations. But then you stop to think about it… there are people out there who can't afford shoes. That's really sad! And, you know, how many of us have 20 pairs of shoes in our closet that we never touch?"
Allen agrees, pointing out, "They provide a really basic necessity that a lot of people — especially kids and older adults — need throughout the world that can really help them out and keep them from getting diseases. I'm just excited to be a part of that."
During the concert, Allen and Cook belted out favorite songs (think Allen's "Live Like We're Dying" and Cook's "Light On") while fans sipped on tasty libations from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. One such self-proclaimed fan was Nashville star, Oliver Hudson, who dropped in to check out Cook and Allen's performances and support Soles4Souls despite having to be on the set early the following morning.
Concert-goers who attended the free (yes, free!) show were asked to bring along a pair of shoes to donate, and Cook and Allen naturally kicked in contributions of their own: a pair of black combat boots and a pair of Converse, respectively.
"Being able to donate, you know, mine and my band's time to play the show and raise awareness to get people to clear out the closet — get rid of those old pairs of sneakers you're not using anymore and give 'em to somebody that can really use them — it's an amazing thing," Cook said.
For both Cook and Allen, giving back is extremely important… and personal.
During Cook's time on American Idol, the then-aspiring musician was candid about his brother Adam's fight against brain cancer. First diagnosed in 1998, Adam sadly succumbed to the disease in 2009. Cook has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness and funds (over $3 million to date) for brain tumor research.
"I just try to give back in general," he explained when asked how he honors his brother. "I think Adam's passing, it just… it sucks. I don't know that there is a real nice, concise, professional way to say it. But you know, if I can continue to use whatever platform it is that I have to help those around me, why not?"
Becoming aware of the state of people's living conditions in other parts of the world served as Allen's catalyst for giving back. "I got introduced to some different things when I was in college, going to different countries and seeing, kind of, for the first time the world apart from America… it's different," elaborated Allen, whose benevolent efforts include work with the Music Empowers Foundation, Haiti relief efforts, a recent World Vision trip to Kenya and missionary work all over the world. "Some people need some basic necessities, and Soles4Souls really does that."
It's no wonder the big-hearted Idol alums genuinely enjoy collaborating with each other.
"He's a funny guy, and we obviously have a lot in common going through the same situation," Allen remarked. "We've only done a select few things together, but it's always been good."
The feeling is clearly mutual for Cook. "Kris, in my opinion, is one of the great talents to ever come off of the show," he stated. "He's a really, really talented guy and a really great guy. I love working with Kris, if for no other reason than it's a good hang. I think anybody that follows him on Twitter knows he's a pretty fun dude. Just getting to share the stage with him again is always a pleasure."
Happily, Allen and Cook's latest collaboration also proved to be a huge hit. By the end of "A Sole-Ful Evening with Kris Allen and David Cook," Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Soles4Souls collected enough shoes and monetary donations to outfit more than 1,500 people in need. And that's what we call getting off on the right foot.
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