Hip-hop artist turns humanitarian

February 15, 2013|By JESSICA MANUEL | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Travis "Big T" Arrington is donating proceeds from his latest single to cancer research.
Submitted photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Travis "Big T" Arrington of Shepherdstown, W.Va., knows all about cancer.

In a matter of four years, Arrington, a Mississippi native, lost three relatives to the disease in addition to others throughout his life.  Searching for answers and a way to cope, the hip-hop artist turned to his music.

Arrington recently released his single "Tribute" on iTunes in honor of loved ones who died. With the recent iTunes release of the song, Arrington will be donating 80 percent of the profits from the song's revenue to cancer research. 

"The ups and downs, I was part of it until their last breaths and it sticks with you," Arrington said. "I was really hurt and thought, ‘How can I vent and ease my frustration?'"

Arrington is not alone in his loss. According to the American Cancer Society, 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year.

In his songs, Arrington's lyrics tell his story. The songs tell about how he dealt with the losses, handled his questions and wondered if he did everything he could. But then, the songs turned into something more.

"Before, it was about me and my issues. Then I realized how much support I have," Arrington said.

 Many fans of the song have sent him their stories and emails and commented on his YouTube release of the music video for "Tribute." They told him he was an inspiration.

The video shows Arrington at the graves of his loved ones, leaving flowers in their memories. During the shooting of the video, he had 36-inch long dreadlocks, which he cut in the video during filming and donated the hair. 

His first donation stop will be with the Relay for Life event at Shepherd University where he is currently a senior. This year's goal is to raise $80,000 and Arrington wants to help them reach their goal before he considers a national level foundation.

"Cancer is a real major thing," he said. "You don't realize how many people are behind you."

Though Arrington is now making a name for himself, "Tribute" is not his first taste of fame.

He has his own radio show on the Shepherd University radio station and is the urban music director for the station.  The show, Da SouthernBoiHour, primarily plays hip-hop music, but he and his co-host Webb discuss entertainment news and other topics they find important, too. 

The duo won Radio Show of the Year in 2011 from the Southern Entertainment Awards in Memphis, Tenn., Arrington himself was nominated for No. 1 Male Radio Personality of the Year. The two-hour long show airs on Saturdays on 89.7 FM.

In addition to music, the mass communications major found another love in the entertainment industry — acting.

Arrington made his debut this past year on the CBS police drama "Blue Bloods," during which he had a small speaking role as the "bad guy," he said. 

"As I get older, I can transition into acting," Arrington said.

More musical role models for the artist are Outkast and older Southern artists who he grew up listening to.  His muse for his music is his surroundings, though, he said.

Wanting to go on tour, he is trying to be added to lineups for three different venues this year now that he has released his newest set, "Kushville Music 2," for free on LiveMixtapes.

"Live shows are cool," he said about the hundreds he's performed. 

With so much on his plate — music, acting and being part of his own distribution group — Arrington is a man of many talents. But his most important attribute is the one that drives him to help, beginning that with "Tribute" and his cause.

"‘Tribute' is from the artist standpoint," Arrington said, "Hip-hop doesn't get a lot of good feedback, but the song sheds light on hip-hop and my story."

How to listen

To connect with Big T, check out his music on iTunes, LiveMixtapes, and YouTube on his website, You can also follow him on Twitter @SouthernBoiEnt and @DaSouthernBoiHr.

Submitted photo

Travis "Big T" Arrington is donating proceeds from his latest single to cancer research.

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