He's a Grammy-award winning rap superstar. He performs in one of the biggest hits of the summer, "Blurred Lines," with Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. He stars in the VH1 reality show "T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle."
And when he gets one day off from his America's Most Wanted Tour with megastar rappers Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, T.I. plans to spend that day at a special show dedicated to military families at the Savannah Civic Center at his T.I. and Friends concert.
The show is part of a four-day America's Heroes Celebration, billed as a salute to the troops and benefit event for all branches of the military represented in the area.
Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actor and author Ashanti will join T.I. onstage alongside Grammy Award-winning rapper and actor Eve.
Ashanti recently released her new album "Braveheart" and is known for her role as Latasha Montclair in Lifetime's "Army Wives."
Eve recently released "Lip Lock," her first album in 10 years.
It's no secret the surrounding Army, Air Force, Marine, Navy and Coast Guard forces have been deep in deployments since 2001. So why did it take so long to bring this level of entertainment for military families to the Lowcountry?
Event organizers claim it all began with the cancelation of the annual Fourth of July concert at Fort Stewart.
IF YOU GO (which you totally should)
What: T.I. and Friends
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 15
Where: Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.
Cost: $32-$100. Anyone interested in sponsoring soldiers to attend the event can call Sarah Richard at Military Deals and Discounts at 866-990-6262 or go to www.militarydealsanddiscounts.com.
Info: etix.com or 912-651-6550
View the full event listing and add the event to your personalized schedule on our Big Calendarâ–º
The Fourth of July concert at Fort Stewart is a favorite event for military families. But this year, government cutbacks forced the cancelation of the concert as well as other traditional military family events like the post-wide Easter egg hunt.
So when local businesses were informed of the cancelation, they knew they had to band together and find an alternative.
"We always support the Fourth of July concert for Fort Stewart and we when found out it was canceled due to budget cuts, we knew we had to get something together to make up for it," said Cameron Mattingly, key account manager for Coca-Cola Savannah.
"We were asked to help put together a free concert for the troops, and everyone started pitching in and making calls."
Jane Vaden Thacher, president of Vaden Automotive Group, said Coastal Chevrolet was asked to help out, and they immediately accepted the task.
"We came in at the ground floor and had no idea what this concert would turn into," Thacher said. "Our military is just so important to our community, government, economy and safety. We can never pay them back for what they do for us.
"They are always the first ones deployed and on the front lines and they deserve all the support we can give them."
Mattingly's and Thacher's teams weren't the only people making calls and offering support for the event.
Also jumping on board were military spouses Chris Dorm and Sarah Richard from Military Deals and Discounts in Hinesville, a business responsible for connecting active duty and retired military personnel to local businesses who want to offer special deals to military members and their families.
The public relations group at Military Deals and Discounts started reaching out to entertainment agents to find entertainers to bring to the Savannah area.
No one had any idea how far those phone calls would take them.
They were connected to movie producer Ryan Combs (Wrath of Caine, Caged Animals, Mafia) at Spotlight Entertainment Group.
Combs' group agreed to start making phone calls to musicians to put together a concert to take place after the deployed units in the area returned from combat.
He also insisted on coming to the Savannah area for three weeks to film the celebrity appearances, concerts and family friendly events.
"I asked them what musicians they were looking for," Combs said.
Richard, an Army spouse stationed at Fort Stewart, admitted her sights were set low due to the fact that big-name acts rarely come to the Savannah area.
"I thought, 'Maybe we can get Vanilla Ice?'" she said, laughing. "I would have been happy with that."
The next thing everyone knew, Combs' group announced T.I. as the headliner for the Savannah concert.
According to Combs, his network of celebrity friends and peers are chomping at the bit to show their support for the military, and there will definitely be some on-stage surprises at the T.I. event.
"Ne-Yo was supposed to come, but he only had one day off his tour and we couldn't secure a venue in Savannah on a Tuesday," Combs said. "He was really bummed he couldn't come out.
Ne-Yo is a Grammy Award-winning R&B musician, songwriter, actor, record producer and dancer. So, yeah, he's a big deal, too.
And Ne-Yo was not the only big-name musician trying to change his schedule to be included in the event.
"We're going to have some big surprises at the concert," Combs said. "I can't release the names yet, but we've got at least three more acts who asked to come on stage and show their support."
"We want to give back," said Combs. "The military is represented in so many big Oscar award-winning movies. Those are the ones that inspired me to get into the movie business.
"Not many people sacrifice these days. These military families give up so much for us.
"I can't imagine leaving my family for so long. I mean look at me, I can't even be away from them for three weeks!" Combs admitted he brought his wife and two children along with him to Savannah while he is filming this project.
The T.I. and Friends concert will take place at 8 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Savannah Civic Center and is part of the America's Heroes Celebration, which aims to salute all the heroes of the military - including spouses, children, grandparents, family, friends and the community.
"This community has really come together to support these men and women around Savannah," Combs said. "When you see that, you want to get involved."
Combs added he anticipates his film will be sold to a larger distribution company and will most likely make its way to a television network for a salute-to-the-troops type production.
The America's Heroes Celebration will continue on Aug. 16 with the 3rd Brigade Support Battalion's all ranks ball at the Hyatt Regency featuring actor Keith David ("Platoon," "ATL," "Crash," "Armegeddon") as the guest speaker along with actor Michelle Rodriguez ("Fast & Furious," "Lost") as guest DJ. Tickets are open to the public for this event.
The event will move down to Jekyll Island on Aug. 17-18 for a beach party (free to military) and concert featuring Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean and the Surf City All-Stars. The weekend celebration will end with a concert by country music superstar Rodney Atkins.
All proceeds from the events and from Combs' film will be distributed to the local military bases to help finance programs hurt by government cutbacks.