Interview: Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton playing first of 2 Oklahoma tornado benefit shows tonight in Durant
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. Look for my review of Wednesday’s (tonight’s) show in the wee hours of Thursday here at BAM’s Blog and on NewsOK.
While the state reels from another outbreak of deadly tornadoes, Southeast Oklahoma-born and bred country music stars Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton are playing benefit shows Wednesday and Thursday to raise funds for relief efforts in the tiny Atoka Country town of Tushka.
Blake Shelton was standing in his Tishomingo driveway on the evening of April 14 when a twister dropped from the storm-swept sky and ripped across the plains and through a tiny Atoka Country town.
“I actually saw that particular tornado that hit Tushka, Oklahoma. We filmed it as a matter of fact,” the country music star said in a phone interview Sunday from Nashville, Tenn. “I believe it must have been the same tornadoes. They were pretty small at this point, and we watched it come together and make a tornado and then it kind of dissipated. And then it got going again straight across that 12-mile prairie between Nida, Oklahoma, and Tushka.”
The EF3 tornado that hit Tushka killed two women, injured more than 40 people and destroyed 150 homes, businesses and public buildings, including the local school. Driving through the ravaged area a few days later, Shelton knew he had to do something to help. He called Brandon Blackstock, the son of his manager, Narvel Blackstock, and stepson of fellow southeast Oklahoma-born and bred country music star Reba McEntire.
“I said ‘I know that Reba’s got family in this area, if she wants to do anything, whatever it is … just let her know I’m on board,’” he recalled Sunday, about a week after his high-profile May 14 wedding to fellow country star and Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert.
Two days later, Shelton got a call back.
“Narvel and his family, when you’re inside of that bunch, it’s a pretty good feeling because they’d do anything for you,” he said. “So I do feel like we’re family. Reba and I, we’re both from the same part of Oklahoma, which is why we’re doing these tornado relief benefits together. I know that struck some of her family and friends in that area and mine, too.”
Reba, the farm girl from Chockie who Sunday became one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Shelton, the white-hot rising star who hails from Ada, made plans to put on a fundraising concert Thursday at Choctaw Event Center in Durant. After the show sold out in just two hours, they booked a second show for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Earlier this week, just a few tickets remained for the added show.
“I mean, what’s better than a big pile of money for a great a cause? A bigger pile of money for a great cause,” he said. “If we’re already gonna be there, it just made sense to do it again. We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t think we could raise as much money again … but we just had a feeling that the second one would raise just as much money and it looks like it’s gonna do that. And that gives you a good feeling.
“You know, I think between Reba being Reba, a huge draw, and also Oklahomans wanting to help and support Oklahomans, it was a no-brainer that they would both sell out,” Shelton said Sunday, just hours before watching Reba’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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