Figures are not in yet for how much money Toby Keith’s Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert raised for the United Way, but early reports from his camp indicate that if the nearly daylong show didn’t break records for paid attendance, it sure came close.
The massive concert was held this past Saturday (July 6) at the University of Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., just outside Oklahoma City and not far from Moore, a town that was devastated by a tornadothis past May. Along with Keith (who grew up in Moore and currently owns a house in Norman), the show featured Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Dunn, Mel Tillis, John Anderson, Sammy Hagar, Krystal Keith, Kellie Coffey, and (via satellite) Carrie Underwood.
The sold-out concert packed more than 60,000 fans who, despite the heat, remained energetic throughout, both for the artists and the cause. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
Krystal Keith (Toby’s daughter) kicked off the show at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by sets from Kellie Coffey and country legend Mel Tillis.
Garth Brooks took the stage in the afternoon and ran through a healthy dose of his best-known hits including “Rodeo,” “Two of a Kind,” “Papa Loved Mama,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “The Dance,” and “Friends in Low Places.” It was his first show in his native Oklahoma in 16 years. “Okies unite! Today is a great day to start the healing process,” he shouted to the crowd during his set.
His wife Trisha Yearwood sang a few of her own (including her own ’90s hits “She’s in Love With the Boy” and “How Do I Live”) and shared mic duties with Garth on their 1997 duet “In Another’s Eyes.”
Sammy Hagar included a Ronnie Dunn song during his hard-rock set (Dunn wrote two songs that will appear on Hagar’s upcoming album), while Dunn’s included his recent solo material as well as songs from his Brooks & Dunn days.
Willie Nelson may have just turned 80, but he still kept the crowd enraptured with a set of songs from his legendary catalog; he also brought out Keith to sing with him on their hit duet “Beer for My Horses.”
Carrie Underwood chimed in via satellite from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, performing such well-known hits as “Good Girl” and “Before He Cheats.”
Keith closed the show with a set that began with “Made in America.”
He then ran through such crowd-pleasers as “I Love This Bar,” “As Good As I Once Was,” and “Red Solo Cup” (which he modified as “Red Sooner Cup” in honor of his home state); and ended with “American Soldier,” a ballad whose serious nature helped underscore the reality of the situation (the tornado recovery effort) that still exists behind the day’s event.
Those who wish to donate can still do so by visiting United Way of Central Oklahoma or texting the keyword REBUILD to 52000, which will give an automatic $10 donation to the relief fund.
– Kurt Wolf, Radio.com