Thomas Rhett Is 'Digging Back Into' His Dad's Favorite Records: 'It's Part of My Writing Process'
You don’t have to spend much time with Thomas Rhett to get that he’s a nice guy. Heck, a quick perusal of the country star’s Instagram is enough to make you realize the devoted father-of-two is all about family, faith, and giving back whenever and wherever possible.
To that third point, the country crooner, 28, has announced his latest charitable initiative: Teaming up with spirits giant Crown Royal on the Purple Bag Project, which aims to deliver 1 million care packages by the year 2020 to active military members overseas and those impacted by natural disasters.
“I’ve been a fan of Crown Royal for a while and to get to work with them was a huge honor. When I learned about the values of Crown Royal and how involved they are with charitable giving, which is super aligned with the way me and my wife live our lives as well, it was really cool to get involved in such a cool campaign that supports our servicemen and women and on this go-around people that have been affected by natural disasters like hurricanes. To be a voice in that and use my platform to spread the word about what the Purple Bag Project is about, I jumped on it immediately and I’m super glad to be involved in it,” Thomas Rhett tells PEOPLE of the collaboration.
On Tuesday, while spending the day packing bags — each of which gets filled with food, personal items, and a handwritten note — in Nashville, he caught up with PEOPLE on life after wrapping the latest leg of his Life Changes tour on the West Coast.
“We’ve been on the road since around March. Our last show was in Sacramento [on Sunday] and we just had a blast out on the West Coast and getting to know our openers, Brett Young and Midland, and tour some really cool cities,” Thomas Rhett says, adding how “mind-blowing” the entire run was, especially The Forum, the celebrated arena just outside of Los Angeles in Inglewood, California.
“When you walk into somewhere like The Forum and you see everyone’s names that have played in that building … Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin. And then you see your name on the wall, it was pretty special. This was the most iconic building I’ve gotten to play in as a headliner and on top of that, the crowd was just electric.”
Since Thomas Rhett arrived back home with his family in Tennessee, there’s been little time to spare before getting ready for Halloween, prepping for the CMA Awards — where he’s up for three awards including male vocalist of the year — on Nov. 14, and then heading to London for a show on that weekend.
“That will be the real close to our year,” he tells PEOPLE. “When we get back from London and get ready for Thanksgiving, and start making a new record and getting prepped for next year.”
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While details for the new album are under wraps, Thomas Rhett admits he’s been listening to “more oldies than I have in a long time,” like Hall & Oates, old Zeppelin, Beatles cuts, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty.
“A lot of people that my dad really forced me to listen to growing up that I wasn’t super appreciative at 9 years old, now I’m really digging back into all of his old records and trying to get inspired by the past. I feel like it’s been a huge part of my writing process for this new album, for sure.”
When he’s not listening to throwbacks, Thomas Rhett can’t get enough of 2018 breakout star Post Malone. “I think I’ve played [Post Malone’s] record more than I’ve played Bruno Mars‘ record, which is a lot,” he concedes.
As for Wednesday night, the Halloween spirit will be in full throttle at the Akins household, with young daughters Willa Gray and Ada James.
“We watched so many Disney movies, that we were just like ‘Which Disney characters do you want to be?’ Willa Gray is obsessed with Monsters, Inc., so Lauren went and bought us all Monsters, Inc. outfits,” he says. “We’re going to be a matching monster family, it should be pretty interesting,” he adds with a chuckle.
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All Hallows’ Eve fun aside, Thomas Rhett wants 2½-year-old Willa Gray and 14-month-old, Ada James, to grow into caring people — and with him and Lauren serving as examples, that shouldn’t be too tough a task.
“I hope God has given me all the right tools to raise Willa Gray to know that no matter where she comes from, she is our child, and that we want her to express her diversity. She’s from Tennessee and she’s from Uganda and I want her to be proud of that,” Thomas Rhett told PEOPLE in a previous interview. “I hope that we can raise both of our children to be super proud of who they are and where they come from — and that they know me and Lauren love them beyond anything else that exists in this world. I hope we can just raise good, kind kids.”
The Purple Bag Project officially gets underway on Nov. 13 in Nashville. For more information, visit crownroyal.com/purple-bag-project.