One of the cornerstones of country music is giving back. When disaster struck in 2013, country’s biggest stars were there to offer their support.
When an E5 tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013, killing 23 people and injuring 377 and leaving the town in ruins, country stars — many of whom hail from Oklahoma — stepped up to the plate in a big way to raise funds for the community. Just nine days after the disaster, Blake Shelton, a native of Ada, Oklahoma, held the “Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert” telethon which aired across multiple networks.
“Everyone has their way to help, and mine as an entertainer is to perform to help raise money and awareness for this tragedy,” Blake said at the time. “This is why I want to do this special and especially hold it in Oklahoma City, which is near ground zero.”
The telethon featured performances from Miranda Lambert, Reba, Vince Gill, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryan and Usher. The concert raised more than $6 million for the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
The Moore tornado was personal for Toby Keith, who was born and raised in the community and whose family still resides there. He held his Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert on July 6 in Norman, Oklahoma, raising approximately $2 million for the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund. More than 60,000 fans attended the eight-hour concert event
“Everybody’s here for the right reasons,” Toby said before the show started. “It’s gonna be a big show for Oklahoma…and it’s gonna take care of some people for a long time.”
The star-studded line up for the show included Toby, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn, Mel Tillis, John Anderson, Sammy Hagar, Krystal Keith and Kellie Coffey, with Carrie Underwood via satellite from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Great American Country’s Storme Warren served as emcee. Also on hand were Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops and University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione.
It wasn’t just tornadoes that country stars supported in 2013. Kenny Chesney rallied around victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in April, creating the Spread The Love Fund dedicated to helping those who needed prosthetic limbs and post-prosthetic care. All of Kenny’s proceeds from the downloaded single sales of “Spread The Love,” his track co-written and recorded with the Wailers, go to the fund as do the proceeds from his special ‘Spread The Love’ t-shirt.
“It’s hard to imagine a world where taking your children to school, going to the movies or witnessing something as iconic as the Boston Marathon is a dangerous thing to do,” Kenny said. “For me, I want to help give these people as much of their lives back as possible, but I’d also like to counteract some of the negativity in the world. Remind people that there are more good people out there, and it’s up to us to ‘Spread the Love.’
“Music can be healing,” he continued. “When you’re at your lowest, it can inspire, the way these athletes, their friends, family and the city of Boston inspire me! I want to give back to the ones who need it, but also to heal all of us a little bit. So, spread the love.”