Somewhere between collecting ASCAP's Voice of Music Award on Monday and attending the CMA Awards Wednesday (Nov. 4), Trisha Yearwood found time to host a very special luncheon at her Nashville home to honor women touched by breast cancer.
Partnering with JC Penney, which carries her Precious Metals Cookware Collection, Yearwood sat with the women at a long farm table sharing a meal that included her recipes for "Chickless" vegetarian pot pies, Brussels sprouts with pistachios, roasted beet salad with goat cheese and chocolate angel food cake with strawberries. Yearwood encouraged women to share their stories.
"Everybody was in a little different moment from women who have been survivors for many years to [songwriter] Amanda Williams, who is in the middle of it," Yearwood told Billboard. "It was an empowering lunch to me. Everybody at the table felt like we're all in this together."
It was also an emotional lunch for Yearwood, who lost her mother to breast cancer in 2011. "Having been the daughter of a woman who went through it, any time you talk to somebody about it and they talk about their own story, you can't help but put yourself right back in the middle of your own story and relive it all," she said. "For me, it's hard because I sympathize and empathize with what they're going through and I'm mad because I wish my mom was sitting at that table. She would have loved this and she would have been incredibly inspiring to these women."
Yearwood chose to serve Chickless Pot Pies because it's a recipe she developed while her mom was battling cancer and was looking for plant-based recipes with no meat or dairy. At the end of the luncheon, she gathered women in the living room and delivered an acoustic performance of "Prizefighter," the title track of her 2014 album, which honors her mother's fighting spirit in battling the disease.
"I couldn’t really look directly at them," Yearwood said about trying not to be overcome with emotion singing for the women who are fighting cancer. "They were nodding because they get it. It [reminds them] 'You are a rock star! You are a superhero!'"
Afterwards, Yearwood posed for photos and each woman was given a gift package that included a 10-piece set of Yearwood's Precious Metals Cookware Collection and an autographed copy of her latest cookbook, Trisha's Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life.
JC Penney has also donated a million dollars to breast cancer research, including a $25,000 donation in honor of Gwen Yearwood to the Stanford Women's Cancer Center.
"When you partner with someone for a business opportunity, that's a great thing," Yearwood said. "But when you can find something that you mutually are passionate about that doesn't have anything to do with making money for yourself, it's a wonderful gift to find that thing that you both feel passionate about. I was so impressed with JC Penney. Everybody does something during the month of October for breast cancer and that’s wonderful, but for JC Penney to raise a million dollars in that month and then to take it beyond October is a message in itself. This is not that you just wear pink for a month. This is every day for these women and it shines that light on this cause. I love how important this is to JC Penney and it makes me love them even more than I already did."
Yearwood previously partnered with JC Penney to launch her Precious Metals Cookware Collection and now the lifestyle maven is expanding her reach with a new furniture collection, which will be available at various stores throughout the country. Pieces of the collection were present throughout Yearwood’s home. "There’s not one chain carrying it. There are a lot of local furniture stores," she said. "It feels really comfortable. I think it works."
Yearwood named the pieces after places special to her and members of her family. The bed in the master bedroom is named Jasper after her home county in Georgia. She said, "There's a chest I named Gwendolyn after mom. It just looks like her. She would have had it in the blue and she would have loved it. Every piece has something interesting about it. There are couches that have USB [ports] in them. You can put your feet up, but they still look really elegant. There's a chest that has a hidden drawer for jewelry."
As Yearwood continues to tour with husband Garth Brooks and further builds her lifestyle brand with the addition of the furniture collection, she said taking time to give back with events like the women's luncheon are very important to her.
"I loved this day. It was emotional, but it was a good emotion," she said. "I loved how personal it was. I would love to do this again. I'd love for them to come over in their pajamas and we could all sit and talk. We did all make a pact to stay connected and see where everybody’s journey goes."