AOL: Another yearly tradition for you is a USO tour. You've been on 167 of them! How did that become so important to you?
Keith: My father was a veteran, and about eight or nine years ago, I wanted to go pay my respects and honor all the troops that were overseas fighting in different conflicts. I was gonna go for two weeks. I got over there and fell in love with it. One of my best friends, Curt Motley, went and became a board member for the USO. And [in the past] nine years, we've done two weeks every year -- over 160 shows in the desert playing for our fine men and women warriors that wear our county's uniform. It's become part of my life now.
It's a wonderful geography lesson. It's a wonderful history lesson. Not to mention getting to shake hands with heroes every single day you're over there. It also allows me to be the poster boy for the USO ... to get other entertainers and people who have something to offer to go over there and support our troops. I'm setting my benchmark so high at 160 shows and not showing any signs of stopping, that I'm trying to shame people into at least going by and shaking hands with those people that are returning from deployment at the hospitals here in the states. That's the least you could do.
AOL: You've developed a thick skin over the years as far as the press goes. But have you ever read anything about yourself that you just can't brush off?
Keith: No. After the first five years in this business, you've been hit as hard as you're gonna be hit. You understand that -- that there's people out there who make their living doing that and that without that, they can't survive. Without you, they can't make it, and I don't need one single one of them to make it. So once you come to that decision, [you] find out that you can focus all your energy on stuff that makes you happy and stuff that makes you more successful. If you sat around stewing [about the press], then you'll never get anything accomplished ... and I accomplish. I'm growing my empire every day.
-- Beville Darden