Casting Crowns, T.I. helped stars shine on Henry County

Special Photo: The Henry County contemporary Christian group, Casting Crowns, won its second American Music Award in 2011.

Special Photo: The Henry County contemporary Christian group, Casting Crowns, won its second American Music Award in 2011.

As the New Year approaches, many from the Southern Crescent area have hit the national scene or been caught up in the national spotlight in the past year. Their presence –– as individuals or as groups –– has brought attention to Henry County.

By far, athletes and entertainers led the way, but bigger than any attention they’ve received, has been that accorded to a formerly little-known Stockbridge businessman –– Herman Cain.

His 999 tax plan, among other things, attracted enough national attention to briefly propel him to the top of the list of those chasing the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Cain, easily, has been Henry County’s most notable newsmaker in 2011.

At one point, many political pundits were speculating that the 65-year-old former CEO of a pizza restaurant chain would emerge as the Republican Party’s nomination, but he was forced to suspend his campaign, in early December, amid allegations of sexual harassment. He remains a hometown political favorite.

• Henry County also gave one of its own in the war in Afghanistan. He was among thousands, nationwide, who have paid the ultimate price for his country, and he was remembered proudly by his fellow citizens of Henry County. U.S. Army Pfc. Jeremy Falconer died March 29, during a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division. Citizens throughout the Southern Crescent lined the streets to honor the 23-year-old's homecoming in April.

• Also on the national stage, although not quite as ubiquitous as Cain, Atlanta Braves Outfielder Jason Heyward made the covers of national publications, and appeared on national television shows, after having acquitted himself well in his previous season with his home town Major League Baseball team.

And there were others –– from different walks of life –– who snagged the spotlight, helping to shine it on Henry County. They include the following:

Anna Arnold

McDonough resident, Anna Arnold, served this year as president of the International Bullying Prevention Association. The association is a 1,400-member organization supporting the use of research-based, bullying-prevention methods at schools, work, and beyond. The 37-year, veteran educator has been working to bring anti-bullying programs to local schools, and to keep them in place. Arnold has served as a family-resource and parent-involvement coordinator, as well as the coordinator of the safe and drug-free schools program in the Henry County School System.

Maurice Madden

Hampton resident, Maurice Madden, is the Georgia Director of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP), a national coalition geared toward promoting diabetes screening and prevention for Medicare recipients. It continues as part of a partnership among 20 national organizations to promote diabetes education among older adults. Madden, as founder and president of Millennium Filmworks, Inc., created a short film called, “The Debilitator.” He also has created other short films on health disparities in the African-American community, including pieces on HIV/AIDS and Colorectal Cancer.

Renford Reese

Renford Reese, a McDonough native, won the 2011 George P. Hart Award, which recognized his leadership on campus, and in the community, of California State Polytechnic University in Los Angeles. Reese is known globally by a quotation once featured on the back of Starbucks coffee cups. His quotation reads: "Insensitivity makes arrogance ugly; empathy is what makes humility beautiful." The college professor has published five books. He also is the founder and director of Colorful Flags, a human-relations program that has served thousands of K-12 students throughout Southern California.

Andre' Re

Andre’ Re, of McDonough, recently was announced as one of seven newly selected members of the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council, which represents the tax-paying public, tax professionals, the payroll community, and small and large businesses nationwide. Re has more than 30 years invested in the accounting and tax profession, serving in roles for the tax advisory services firm, Ernst & Young, as well as the Internal Revenue Service.

Clifford “T.I.” Harris

Clifford "Tip" Harris, better known as T.I., is a recording artist, business executive, author, producer and actor. He heads Grand Hustle Records.

The Stockbridge rapper/actor is featured, along with wife, on a VH1 family documentary. He has won three Grammys, created a show on MTV called "T.I.'s Road to Redemption," and has co-written a novel, "Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets," published by Harper Collins. He was the lead actor in the film, “ATL,” and had roles in “American Gangster,” and “Takers.”

Casting Crowns

The Henry County contemporary Christian group, Casting Crowns, won its second American Music Award in 2011. The group won “Favorite Artist in the Contemporary Inspirational” category at the 39th Annual American Music Awards (AMA). Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns, is the student pastor at Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church, in Stockbridge Casting Crowns recently released a new album, “Come To The Well,” featuring the hit song, “Courageous.”

DeAndre ‘Soulja Boy’ Cortez Way

McDonough resident, and platinum recording artist, DeAndre Cortez Way, is better known by his stage name, Soulja Boy. In November, he launched ‘SouljaWorld,’ a location-based social-media application that will allow users to log on ,and “check-in” from various locations, and connect with people using Soulja Boy-related digital content. Way is expected to release an album, entitled, “Promise,” in early 2012. His single, “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” reached No. 1, on the Billboard Hot 100. In August, Way was listed at No. 18 on the Forbes list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings of 2010, earning $7 million for that year.