By William Croyle
RABBIT HASH - Comedian Drew Carey, singer Mariah Carey and the Ben-Gals cheerleaders have entertained U.S. troops in Kosovo the past couple of years.
Next month, you can add the Collingsworth Family of Rabbit Hash to that list.
The family is a nationally known gospel-singing group. They have recorded seven albums, including one last week, and lined up concerts every week through November 2004.
Phil and Kim Collingsworth and their four children - ages 5-14 - have been asked by the U.S. Department of Defense to entertain more than 6,500 Army personnel on Christmas.
The family will have a free Kosovo Kick-Off Concert at Central Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wright on Dec. 5. Their trip will be Dec. 21-26.
It all started when Kim's brother, Brian, an Army reservist in Kosovo, gave a Collingsworth CD to an Army chaplain, Col. Robert Boidock. He loved what he heard.
"They come with a long history of good family entertainment and are willing to come on Christmas Day," said Col. Boidock, from Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, where 5,000 Army personnel are stationed.
The family also will perform at Camp Montieth for 1,500 troops, and at the United Nations headquarters camp.
Phil and Kim got their start in 1986 as a last-minute substitution at a church camp in Michigan. They continued singing at churches and conventions through the 1990s while working other jobs. In 2000, after they made an album, their careers took off, and now singing is their full-time business.
And they've incorporated new singers: their children, Brooklyn, 14; Courtney, 12; Phillip, 9, and Olivia, 5, are all members. "They all got involved at age 3, as soon as they had enough poise to stand in front of a crowd," said Phil.
The kids are home-schooled and travel on weekends with their parents to perform.
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