♪ ♪ Some heroes fly, some heroes fall ♪ LEE: When I was about 10 years old, I was so infatuated with music.
♪ Some heroes you never hear about ♪ I was listening to the radio.
I heard these voices singing these stories and these love songs, and I don'’t know, I guess I was this hopeless romantic even as a nine year old, 10 year old.
I just always pictured myself singing a song for my girl when I got married.
♪ Some heroes ♪ My inspiration behind music always has been emotion.
♪ But all heroes ♪ [Lee vocalizing] But there is a fine line between writing a song that really is great or that matters and keeping it simple where it hits you right between the eyes.
10 years old, and I write this song, second song I ever write, you know, and it was from the guts of me, from my heart.
And it was called "God Gives Every Man One Great Hound," and it was talking about Daddy'’s dog Train.
Well, I remember playing it for my daddy and his best friend.
♪ God gives every man one great hound ♪ ♪ ♪ That old dog will run a buck ♪ ♪ '’Til the sun goes down ♪ And it continues on.
So, I remember I sang this whole song for him and I look up, and my daddy and his best friend are crying their eyes out.
Grown country boy men.
Whatever that feeling was, like making somebody, moving somebody, like, and my daddy of all people, you know, this big, strong, tough hero, you know.
Still that'’s what it is.
Like every night onstage, that'’s my favorite part is looking at people'’s faces.
Whatever that face is, whatever that song is, I can usually see a story right on their face.
I know what they'’re thinking.
I know what they'’re feeling.
That'’s my heart, that'’s my dream.
That'’s why I do this.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but today I'’m gonna meet someone who inspires me through her simple acts of kindness.
And what she doesn'’t know is I'’m gonna take her story, and I'’m gonna turn it into a country song and hopefully a great one.
I was just so inspired by what you'’re doing.
So, here'’s one for you.
We appreciate you, and we just want you to know that.
[audience applauding and cheering] I'’m Lee Brice, and Ashley Ruiz is the inspiration for my American Anthem.
♪ ♪ [light clicks on] ♪ [coffee machine snaps closed] ASHLEY: When I was a child, I lived in Puerto Rico for two and a half years.
My parents are from there, and when I think of the word "poverty," that'’s kinda where my mind goes.
Rise and shine, it'’s Laundry Project Day.
Just taking road trips over the island and actually seeing what it looks like for people to be poor.
My family grew up in that, and thankfully, my dad was able to get involved in a career where he got out of that, but I know that that'’s not a reality for a lot of families.
[box slams down] Just picked up supplies.
I'’ll be at the laundromat in about 15 to 20 minutes.
My father was active duty military for 23 years, so we moved around a lot.
And I remember growing up just always having this example from my parents to always remember where you came from and stay humble and try to just be a good person and take care of other people and do whatever you can to help someone.
'’Cause that could really make the difference in their lives.
♪ I learned compassion from my dad.
He is always the type of person that will help anybody in any way that he can.
He'’ll text us little things, and I remember just the other day, he texted me a picture of him with my sister and I.
And he said, "In 1977, after high school, "I would'’ve never imagined "two beautiful kids next to me.
Prison guards perhaps."
[sniffs] [laughs] He said, "Count blessings every day for each- each day is a gift of life."
And he sent me my high school graduation photo.
He said, "You'’ve come so far.
Reach for the stars.
If you can see Orion, you can see me looking at you."
♪ [road noise] So, today we are heading into an area that people really need a little bit of hope and soap.
♪ So, I was in college and I had broken my leg in a jet ski accident.
I was in a wheelchair for two months, feeling pretty depressed.
I was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
And over the years have come to realize that when I'’m doing something that makes me feel needed and fulfilled, you know, that makes me feel like I'’m a part of something, that really helps kind of center me.
And I always say it just kind of fuels the soul.
When I finally, you know, started to kinda get back on my feet literally, I heard about The Laundry Project and was just completely captivated by just such a basic need of laundry being fulfilled.
We go to laundromats in the most underserved areas of town and assist low-income families in doing their laundry.
We bring all of the quarters, all the supplies, everything that they need so they can save their own resources for other things like food or bills or extracurricular activities for their kids.
Over the years have realized the- the ripple effect that it has on these families.
Come on in.
We don'’t call them volunteers.
We call them "hope dealers."
Our T-shirts say "hope dealers."
Some of us have "hope dealer" tattooed on our arms.
It'’s something that we'’ve all latched onto.
MAN: No catch?
ASHLEY: No catch.
I just wanna pay for you to do your laundry.
I got Corey coming for ya.
You got everything you need?
LEE: Today I'’m going to meet a lady doing great things through her acts of- of giving and kindness.
ASHLEY: We'’re doing free laundry today.
So, we'’ll pay for it, and we have all the soap and everything, and we'’re- we'’ll take care of it.
ASHLEY: There'’s no catch.
We just wanna help.
[car door slams] LEE: Good deeds can be simple.
It'’s simple but it'’s effective like a great country song really.
Hey, I'’m Lee.
ASHLEY: It'’s nice to meet you.
LEE: How are you?
ASHLEY: Good, how'’s it going?
LEE: Good to see ya.
ASHLEY: Yeah, welcome to The Laundry Project.
LEE: This is awesome.
I'’ve been hearing all about it.
I'’m so excited to be here.
ASHLEY: Uh, well, yeah, if you wanna go ahead and jump in and get to work.
LEE: Let'’s get her done.
ASHLEY: All right.
LEE: Come on.
[laughs] ♪ [coins jingle] ♪ ♪ [machine whirring] ASHLEY: Hi!
ASHLEY: How are you?
WOMAN: We'’re doing fine, I guess.
ASHLEY: Oh goodness, hi.
ASHLEY: Did you hear about what we'’re doing here today?
WOMAN: No, what are y'’all doing?
ASHLEY: Okay, so it'’s called The Laundry Project.
And we are gonna pay for you to wash and dry all of your clothes.
ASHLEY: And we have all the supplies for you.
WOMAN: Thank you so much.
That really helps out.
ASHLEY: Of course!
Yeah, let'’s go ahead and get you over to a machine.
You wanna help push the cart?
WOMAN: Push the cart, Randy.
ASHLEY: Come on.
ASHLEY: Let'’s go, let'’s go.
If it'’s just a load of laundry that saves that mom money, that can, you know, help that kid focus in school more and get better grades so they can get into college, like I think of that ripple effect that it has on some of these families.
LEE: You ready?
WOMAN: Yay, Randy.
LEE: Good job.
ASHLEY: Did you ever think you'’d be hanging out at a laundromat?
LEE: Well, I mean I'’ve hung out at many laundromats.
[laughs] So, what got you here doing this?
ASHLEY: So, I, um, got involved with The Laundry Project back in Florida... LEE: Okay.
ASHLEY: ...and then started the program when I lived in Jacksonville.
And, um, moved here in September 2019 and eight weeks to the day that I moved, we did our first Laundry Project here in Nashville.
LEE: Let'’s go back.
Like, I wanna know like where this whole seed was planted.
ASHLEY: So, my family is from Puerto Rico.
My parents didn'’t grow up with- with a lot.
And thankfully, my father went and joined the military.
So, he was in for 23 years, served as a Navy attorney, a Navy JAG.
ASHLEY: So, that took us many places, including back to Puerto Rico.
So, my sister and I had the opportunity to live there and, um, really get to see what my parents grew up in as well.
♪ My parents didn'’t grow up with a washer and dryer in their home, so they washed clothes by hand.
The chemicals would make my grandmother'’s hands kind of raw just by like scrubbing and all that.
LEE: I grew up from like humble beginnings.
It helps me appreciate just hard work and doing the right thing.
ASHLEY: Um-hmm LEE: And doing good work and like having pride in what you do, no matter what it is, big or small.
It'’s beautiful to see, you know, that you'’re hanging onto those roots, you know?
Appreciation and perspective is everything.
'’Cause we'’re so blessed, you know?
A lot of people work hard, and they- they still are- they still struggle every second of every day.
ASHLEY: I don'’t have children.
I can'’t imagine having to choose if I put my kids in clean clothes to go to school or if I put food on the table or if I put gas in my car.
COLLEEN: Being a single parent, and getting laundry done is a struggle.
You kind of have to pick and choose what you do and where you'’re gonna spend your money and, you know, laundry is something that obviously everyone needs.
Everyone needs clean clothes.
Everyone wants to feel good about themselves.
You know, my children'’s needs come first.
Their clothes are always what'’s washed first.
Mine are kind of on the back burner, and being able to have a project like this, it'’s huge.
ASHLEY: It can.
Something so basic of clean laundry that a lot of people just didn'’t grow up with, so... LEE: Wow.
ASHLEY: It makes you kind of appreciate what we do here and... LEE: That'’s right.
ASHLEY: ...a lot more.
LEE: You'’re- you'’re getting a lot- lot of laundry washed here.
ASHLEY: And people don'’t realize how expensive it is too.
I mean just to dry... LEE: A- adds up.
ASHLEY: ...it'’s a quarter, for I think, every three minutes.
LEE: And that adds up.
ASHLEY: And that adds up.
So, we still need seven dollars and 25 cents in that one.
LEE: Seven dollars and 25 cents.
We don'’t realize like just the huge expense that goes with just having a clean shirt or a clean bed to sleep in.
LEE: I mean this is a lot of time.
LEE: Just putting the quarters... ASHLEY: Four hours.
LEE: ...in the machine.
LEE: I mean we'’ve still got a long way to go.
ASHLEY: So, to have, you know, a roll of- of 10 dollar quarters... LEE: Absolutely.
ASHLEY: In your hands and then it'’s- it'’s gone after using one machine.
I mean we'’ll go through anywhere from $500 up to $850 worth of quarters.
ASHLEY: At one Laundry Project.
LEE: You know, that'’s a lot of benefit that'’s coming, not just free laundry that day, I think it- it just goes so much further.
ASHLEY: It does, but it also ties the community together too.
ASHLEY: So, I remember we did a Laundry Project, and this lady looked at me and she goes, "Oh, thank you so much for doing this."
I go, "Oh, it'’s our pleasure."
She goes, "No, but I feel like you see me."
And I was like, "Yeah, well, of course."
She goes, "No, no, no, no.
I feel like you see me."
And when she said that, that'’s when I'’m like, you know what, [smacks lips] I'’m in the right place.
[Lee laughs] Like I found my thing.
Everybody, you know, you'’re passionate about music, I'’m passionate about The Laundry Project.
ASHLEY: It gives me a sense of purpose, and when I'’m doing that, you know, I feel like I'’m able to- to spread joy with other people.
LEE: It makes me think that I wanna get my 13 year old son to come in here to hang out with y'’all for, you know, for a weekend.
LEE: And like let him experience and to see... ASHLEY: We'’ll put him to work.
LEE: Put him to work, you know.
ASHLEY: For sure.
LEE: He'’d be like, "Okay."
ASHLEY: One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi, it says, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
ASHLEY: And it really is true.
Like I'’ve learned a lot about myself doing all this stuff.
I'’ve learned- I'’ve learned patience.
I'’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover.
I'’ve learned humility.
I'’ve learned how to be, um, truly grateful.
So many people are one crisis away, but some people are kind of already there.
LEE: Whew... ♪ JACQUE: I am currently at the Rescue Mission, and for the Women'’s Rescue Mission, we do not have laundry facilities.
I'’m disabled, so I'’m on the bus.
You know, people don'’t even wanna sit by you on the bus if you don'’t have clean clothes.
I'’ve been here before when they'’ve had the events.
It was just terrific for me, because at the time, I had been actu- a- actually had to be on the streets for a couple of nights, and I had wet sleeping bags, blankets, everything.
And so, it was really, really helpful.
LEE: I mean what does it cost y'’all to come do this?
ASHLEY: Usually between, um, $1,000 to $1,500.
And... LEE: Per like, per... ASHLEY: Per Laundry Project.
Three to $400 on the supplies, and we gotta get quarters.
So, we never wanna run out of anything.
LEE: [laughs] Yeah.
Bet there'’s some people that walk up to the door, and they'’re like, "Are you ser- like, Is this a joke?"
ASHLEY: Oh yeah.
LEE: "Like are you, am I getting pranked here or?"
LEE: Almost distrusting of it, like... ASHLEY: Very!
And rightfully so, we totally get it, but you know, they'’ll come up, and we'’ll just smile and say, "Hi," you know, "we'’re here... LEE: Right.
ASHLEY: ...to help you do your laundry," And we will pay for it.
There'’s no catch.
We'’ll pay for it.
I have all the supplies, everything so you can save your own stuff.
MAN: That is awesome.
I wouldn'’t wanna hang out at a laundromat for three or four hours, so why not try to make it fun in some way by, you know, having conversations or getting a cup of coffee and, um, just talking to somebody about their story?
And it'’s a really cool thing to be a part of.
[laughs] LEE: You gotta be here to like really take this in and understand how big this thing is that you'’re doing.
It'’s really amazing.
I love seeing these people'’s faces.
And the appreciation that'’s deep inside them.
It'’s really amazing.
Tomorrow, we don'’t do a lot of shows in town, but I actually have a show tomorrow.
LEE: You, yourself, some friends, whatever, if you got anybody around and they wanna come out and see.
I'’d love to have you.
I would love that.
That'’d be awesome.
LEE: Just, you know, I'’ll... ASHLEY: You got a guy who can get me in?
LEE: I think I know a guy.
[Ashley laughs] Okay?
Well, then see you tomorrow night?
LEE: See you later, all.
ASHLEY: Take care, good seeing you.
LEE: All right, good seeing you.
♪ She comes in and she surprises like a whole community at one laundromat and, like, you know, pays for laundry for like a day.
And like I know it sounds like, this small thing, but man, I got in there, and I was with her, and I was like, "This is huge."
It'’s some quarters for somebody, but those quarters add up big time for somebody, you know?
This is my motley crew.
We'’ll battle back and forth sometimes.
Adam'’ll say something, I'’m like, "Adam, that'’s not right."
[Billy laughs] And then I'’ll sit there, 20 minutes goes by and I'’m like, "Hey, what about this?"
And Adam'’s like, "Yeah, that'’s what I said 20 minutes ago."
[all laugh] LEE: We have talked about like a little help does a lot of good, you know?
And that can be, that'’s universal too.
ADAM: Lee is such a fountain of words and ideas and melodies that sort of our job as songwriters is just to sort of take in everything that he'’s throwing out there and put it into place and kinda, kinda build the picture from there.
♪ But a little help goes a long lo-♪ ADAM: Little help Little help does a lotta good.
♪ Little help does a lot of good ♪ ADAM: We sort of had that idea of a little help does a lot of good.
ADAM: And wrote that- that chorus section first.
ADAM: And then we were looking for what are the pictures, what are the details that get us to... LEE: To that.
ADAM: ...that chorus.
When she hears, "A little help does a lot of good," especially when somebody needs it bad and maybe there'’s a thing we do on "bad."
I'’m not sure what we do, but maybe we do some kinda little musical vocal thing to where we go, something like get a little angsty with that part.
It- it really sets the hook off, and it lets that emotion come in.
And they need it bad.
BILLY: Mm-hmm LEE: You know, bad.
♪ When somebody needs it bad ♪ ♪ Little help does a lotta good ♪ It'’s like... [Lee vocalizes] ♪ When somebody needs it bad ♪ ♪ A little help does a lot o- ♪ Some way to milk that a little bit.
BILLY: And really that whole simple, but not simple, is kinda the way a song should be.
LEE: [laughs] Yeah.
BILLY: It should be s-, you know, but-- LEE: But it'’s very complicated to say that.
BILLY: And it'’s hard to write simple, that'’s the thing, you know?
Tom Petty'’s "Free Falling" and how you know "She'’s a good girl, "she loves her mama, loves Jesus and America too."
You know everything about that girl in how many words?
LEE: Yeah, 16 seconds.
LEE: [laughs] Yeah.
BILLY: And you know her.
ADAM: Bonnie Rait, "I Can'’t Make You Love Me."
"I can'’t make you love me if you don'’t."
If that'’s the only line of that song, you know.
LEE: That'’s all you need.
ADAM: You could write a book.
BILLY: It'’s all you need.
[laughs] ADAM: You could write a book about what that person'’s going through.
LEE: That'’s right.
Yeah, it was simple, but it wasn'’t simple.
She said one lady came in and she'’s like, "No, no, no, I wanna thank you," she'’s like, "for seeing me."
LEE: She'’s like, "You- you see me."
LEE: Yes, you'’re here.
You'’re helping in this way.
LEE: But that was the big thing for this lady.
She'’s like, "I- I'’m seen by you."
BILLY: So, now we just wrote that in and you know.
[laughs] Isn'’t the picture of love sometimes just showin'’ up?
LEE: Just showin'’ up.
♪ Sometimes a hero wears a cape ♪ ♪ Sometimes a hero just shows up ♪ ADAM: We know how we want the song to feel, and we know what we want the song to accomplish.
We want anybody to be able to hear it and get something out of it, but we also want Ashley to be able to hear it and know that we think she'’s amazing.
[Billy laughs] Both.
ADAM: So, it'’s just looking for pictures to fill in the gaps to get us to that where anybody can hear it but also, this is also or her.
LEE: To that.
That'’s exactly right.
We never say a song'’s done until it'’s like on the radio.
Sometimes you get stuck, and you'’re like, "You know what?
"If I can'’t get there in my head that day, "then I just rather just stop and come back another day."
ADAM: But you'’re singing this song in six hours, so... LEE: Yeah.
[all laugh] LEE: We'’ll have it dialed in tonight.
It'’s pretty close.
ADAM: And a song is nothing without a great singer and a great performance.
We hand over the thing we'’ve built at the end of the day, and then Lee makes it magic.
♪ [indistinct chatter] ASHLEY: I am so excited that Lee invited me and a bunch of my friends out to watch him play tonight.
Um, haven'’t seen him perform in a couple of years, so I'’m really expecting a great show.
LEE: Spending the day with Ashley yesterday and with The Laundry Project gave us so much to pull from.
We are so excited to get out here and just give her a little bit back.
We want this to be special, and we hope it- it, we hope it goes over well, so here we go.
[audience applauding and whistling] Thank you very much.
Well, uh... Ashley, we didn'’t just bring you here to sing a song or two for ya.
I was just so inspired by what- what you'’re doing and, I just wanna tell you that, the next project that you have, I would love to fund it.
And just cover it.
[audience applauding] I would love to cover it, just to be a small part.
I mean that'’s just a small part, but we would love to fund the next one that you do and so, we appreciate you, and we just want you to know that.
[audience applauding and cheering] Also, I was just thinking about what you'’re doing, and I was like, "You know, "just wonder if there'’s a song in here somewhere."
We just wrote it today.
Literally, we finished it [audience laughs] like an hour and a half ago.
[audience laughs and claps] I could s- totally screw this up, okay?
We just wrote it.
But... ASHLEY: You'’re doing great, sweetie!
LEE: [laughs] So... [audience laughs] MAN: It'’s okay.
So, we'’re... [laughs] w- So, we'’re gonna try this.
But again, I, you know, I know you get blessed every day from what you do, um, but we just wanted to add a little- little something to do that, so here we go.
[audience applauding] ♪ ♪ ♪ She walks in a downtown laundromat ♪ ♪ ♪ Two kids, three bags of clothes in hand ♪ ♪ ♪ A little short on luck and cash ♪ ♪ A little too much pride to ask ♪ ♪ Kind words and 11 bucks ♪ ♪ From a stranger might not seem like much ♪ ♪ A little help does a lot of good ♪ ♪ Little love goes a long long way ♪ ♪ You could change somebody'’s whole world ♪ ♪ With just a little bit of pocket change ♪ ♪ Yeah, the small things all add up ♪ ♪ A whole lot more than you think they would ♪ ♪ But somebody needs it real bad ♪ ♪ A little help does a lot of good ♪ ♪ A lot of good ♪ ♪ Sometimes a hero wears a cape ♪ ♪ Sometimes they'’re dressed like me and you ♪ ♪ Sometimes showin'’ up is all it takes ♪ ♪ To get somebody through a tough time ♪ ♪ Yeah, sometimes ♪ ♪ A little help is a lot of good ♪ ♪ Little love goes a long long way ♪ ♪ You could change somebody'’s whole world ♪ ♪ With just a little bit of pocket change ♪ ♪ Yeah, the small things all add up ♪ ♪ A whole lot more than you think they would ♪ ♪ But somebody needs it real bad ♪ ♪ A little help does a lot of good ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ ♪ ♪ Kind words and 11 bucks ♪ ♪ From a stranger might not seem like much ♪ ♪ A little help does a lot of good ♪ ♪ Little love goes a long long way ♪ ♪ You could change somebody'’s whole world ♪ ♪ With just a little bit of pocket change ♪ ♪ Yeah, the small things all add up ♪ ♪ A whole lot more than you think they would ♪ ♪ But somebody needs it real bad ♪ ♪ A little help does a lot of good ♪ ♪ Lot of good ♪ ♪ A whole lot of good ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ Yeah ♪ [audience applauding and cheering] LEE: Thank you.
[audience applauding and cheering] ASHLEY: Ahh, I'’m feeling a little overwhelmed.
[laughs] That was very unexpected.
LEE: That was awesome.
ASHLEY: That was amazing.
Thank you so much.
LEE: You'’re amazing.
I hope that the song was cool.
We had fun writing it.
ASHLEY: I'’m glad.
LEE: Like, it really was a blessing for us, so hopefully it was for you too.
ASHLEY: No, it was great.
Thank you so much.
Really, we loved having you there.
This is one of the biggest things in my life, so I love sharing it with other people.
And I'’m- I'’m glad that now you are a... you'’re officially a hope dealer.
LEE: We'’re, yeah, that'’s right.
[Ashley laughs] ASHLEY: Everything I do, [crying] I just try to make my parents proud.
And I hope that they watch this and they realize that I didn'’t forget where our family came from when I'’m actually doing things to- to show them that I didn'’t forget.
♪ Lot of good ♪ ♪ A whole lot of good ♪ ♪ ♪