The 2009 mtvU Woodie Awards aren’t just about great performances, killer videos and artists who push the boundaries of musical experimentation. (Though there’s no shortage of any of that.) The Woodies are also about awareness, service and giving a little bit back. That’s why they gave out the Good Woodie, the award that recognizes exceptional commitments to social change. The illustrious nominees included To Write Love on Her Arms founder Jamie Tworkowski, John Legend (for his poverty-combating Show Me campaign), Wyclef Jean (for his Yéle Haiti foundation), Alicia Keys (for the AIDS-in-Africa-focused Keep a Child Alive) and Kenna (for his work with Summit on the Summit).
Though Tworkowski took home the hefty piece of lumber, Kenna’s project is certainly intriguing. The multi-talented musician is currently putting together a plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro — the tallest mountain in Africa — in order to raise awareness for the worldwide water crisis. Kenna’s own father nearly died of a water-borne illness in his youth, so it’s an issue that he takes very personally. He won’t be alone on his trek, though — he’s bringing along friends Jessica Biel, Lupe Fiasco, Santigold and a host of others will join him on the trip to the peak.
As you can imagine, you can’t simply put on your coat and wander up the over 19,000 feet that make up Africa’s highest elevation. It takes a great deal of training, and Kenna and his team are all hard at work. “I’m training in secret,” Kenna told MTV News on the red carpet of the Woodie Awards. “Jessica Biel needs no training whatsoever. Lupe Fiasco thinks that he is in shape, but he’s in for a rude awakening. It’s a lot of cardio and lung capacity. Altitude is really crazy and oxygen is really crazy.” This isn’t Kenna’s first crack at the mountain, either. “I did it once before. I got sick about a thousand feet from the top, so I didn’t make it. But I’m going to make it this time.” That’s exactly the sort of resolve you’ll find all over the Good Woodie category — and all over the rest of the 2009 mtvU Woodie Awards, which aired this Friday, December 4 at 10 p.m. on MTV, MTV2 and mtvU.