Bo Bice, who has been absent from the American Idols Live Tour since having emergency intestinal surgery on August 18, will return for the final night, a just-added benefit show for victims of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
At the show Sunday at the Oncenter in Syracuse, New York, Bo will debut a song he wrote after the hurricane struck called "We Can't Change This World."
"The chorus is 'We can't change this world/ If we can't change our minds,' " Bice said of the song, which, like Kanye West's recent controversial remarks, questions whether the nation's delayed response to the tragedy correlates with the race of the majority of the victims (see "T.I., David Banner Get Behind Kanye's Bush Comments"). "The only way to curb discrimination and belligerent ignorance is to educate, and the way to educate is to go down there and identify. When you pick up an old black man out of a mud pile, then it's not just something on TV anymore."
Bice is planning a trip to Louisiana later this month and is also launching a Web site (BoBiceRelief.com) to raise funds for disaster relief as well as other causes such as AIDS research and Farm Aid, whose annual concert he'll perform at on September 18.
In the meantime, the "Idol" runner-up has taken a family of five from Grand Isle, Louisiana, in to the home he recently moved out of in Helena, Alabama. (He now lives in Nashville.)
"We're going to get that house furnished and check their kids into school," Bo said. "I don't know them, but I know they need help. They're human beings. That's the smallest thing I can do is let my empty house go to them."
Bo and his band Sugar Money have recorded "We Can't Change This World," as well as a B-side called "Changing for the Better," which he hopes to release soon. Although doctors ordered him to six to eight weeks of bed rest, Bo believes he has the strength to visit Louisiana.
"The biggest thing we can do is go down there and help out," he said. "This is our chance to shine, to do something with life."
As for his own health, Bo revealed that he first fell ill on August 14 and checked into a hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, after vomiting for 15 hours. He was released the following day and played shows in Glendale, Arizona, and Los Angeles before the vomiting returned August 18 in Las Vegas.
Bo went to Desert Springs Hospital and was diagnosed with a blockage in his intestines and ordered into surgery (see "Bo Bice Has Emergency Surgery, Misses 'Idol' Tour Dates").
"They laid all my guts out on a table and cleaned them out and sewed me back up," Bo said. "They cut me from ass to elbow."
Doctors ordered Bo to rest to recover from the surgery, as well as properly heal from the July 31 incident in which he broke his foot onstage while performing in Manchester, New Hampshire (see "Bo Bice Breaks Foot Onstage, Finishes Concert").
"I'm really upset about [missing tour dates]," Bo said. "I feel like I let everybody down. Obviously there's nothing I can do about this particular situation. If it were up to me, I would be out there tomorrow, but the docs won't let me. I'm depressed about it, but hopefully true fans will come out and see me later."
Bo had extreme stomach pains when he was 21 and believed he had ulcers, but he never had it properly checked out. "So this is something that's probably been bugging me for six to eight years," the 29-year-old said.
During his week in the hospital, Bo was bombarded with messages and gifts, which he said helped him through recovery.
"I had a jungle in my hospital room with all the flowers," he said. "My mom bought 20 other vases and she was up all night long [the last night], breaking them down and making new arrangements. We passed them out to the children and elderly in the hospital, so everybody who sent me flowers, they went on to make somebody else's day better."
Tickets for Sunday's American Idols Live Tour benefit are still available, with all of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.
To find out what you can do to help provide relief to victims of Katrina, head to think MTV's hurricane relief page.