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Singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers is a crossover artist, enjoying enormous success on both the country music and pop music charts.
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He collaborated with such pop stars as Kim Carnes and Sheena Easton. Turning to acting, Rogers starred in several television movies inspired by his songs, including 1980's The Gambler, which spawned several sequels, and 1981's Coward of the County. On the big screen, he played a race car driver in the comedy Six Pack (1982).
Rogers scored one of his biggest hits: a duet with Dolly Parton called "Islands in the Stream." Written by the Bee Gees, the song went to the top of both the country and pop charts. Rogers and Parton won the Academy of Country Music Award for Single of the Year for their efforts. After this, Rogers continued to thrive as a country music performer, but his ability to crossover to pop music success started to wane. Among the hits from this period is his duet with Ronnie Milsap, "Make No Mistake, She's Mine," which won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Duo Country Vocal Performance.
In addition to music, Rogers also demonstrated a passion for photography. Images that he took while traveling around the country were published in the 1986 collection Kenny Roger's America. "Music is what I am, but photography would probably be second," he later explained to People magazine. The following year, Rogers published another collection called Your Friends and Mine.
Continuing to act, Rogers appeared in such television movies as Christmas in America (1990) and MacShayne: Winner Takes All (1994). Rogers also began exploring other business opportunities. In 1991, he started his own restaurant franchise called Kenny Rogers Roasters. He later sold the venture to Nathan's Famous, Inc. in 1998.
That same year, Rogers created his own record label, Dreamcatcher Entertainment. He also starred in his own off-Broadway Christmas show The Toy Shoppe around that time. Releasing his next album, She Rides Wild Horses, in 1999, Rogers enjoyed a return to the charts with the hit "The Greatest," which told the story of a boy's love of baseball. He scored another hit with "Buy Me a Rose" off the same album.
Rogers went through a dramatic change in his personal life in 2004. He and his fifth wife, Wanda, welcomed twin boys Jordan and Justin in July—just a month before his 66th birthday. "They say that twins at my age will either make you or break you. Right now I'm leaning towards break. I would kill for the energy they've got," Rogers told People magazine. He has three older children from his previous marriages. That same year, Rogers published his children's book, Christmas in Canaan, which was later turned into a television movie.
Rogers also made headlines for undergoing plastic surgery. Longtime fans were surprised by his appearance on American Idol in 2006. On the show to promote his latest album, Water & Bridges, Rogers showed off his efforts to make his face more youthful. He wasn't completely happy with the results, however, complaining about how his eyes turned out.
In 2009, he celebrated his long career with Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years, a musical retrospective.
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They make music with instruments they were born with - their voices. Gifted vocalists have entertained audiences across musical genres from the tour de force arias of Luciano Pavarotti to the classic crooning of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to the soulful vocals of artists like Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. With their powerful lyricism, singers like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen became poet laureates of American music while artists including Joan Baez and Joe Strummer used their voices to prompt social change while they entertained. Rockers from Elvis Presley to The Beatles to Kurt Cobain helped define their generations through their songs while icons like Michael Jackson, Cher and Whitney Houston shaped pop culture with their larger-than-life voices and personas. See these and more famous singers who have struck a chord in musical history.
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