The morning after the deadly EF5 tornado ravaged Moore, local musician Johnny Blaul was working at his day job in Norman when a co-worker said, “Hey you play music, right? Maybe you could use that to do something for the people.”
Less than a week later, the frontman of Norman-based alternative trio Begin Again and his pal R. Travis Pierce released “Reaching Out: A Relief Album by Oklahoma Artists” via the online music stores iTunes and Bandcamp. The 22-track digital album features songs from Oklahoma indie rock, folk and pop-punk bands like Tiger Lily, Defining Times, Tallows, Deerpeople and Ripple Green. All proceeds are earmarked for the Red Cross' tornado relief efforts.
“We were trying to make it as big as possible just so we could have the greatest effect,” said Blaul, who works at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Norman.
“You know, we can't do something like the relief concert that was put on by all those huge stars. There's no way that we could have that kind of financial effect. Or we can't like give a million dollars like Kevin Durant. But I wanted to give something significant. I wanted to have us all to be able to help contribute something.”
Oklahoma's diverse musical community has rallied in the aftermath of May tornadoes that devastated Moore, Shawnee, El Reno and other communities. From homegrown country music superstars to local kindie rockers, several Sooner State performers have released digital music intended to raise money for the relief efforts.
After the May 20 Moore tornado, Oklahoma City-based Sugar Free Allstars, who specialize in funky jams for children, penned “(Look for the) Good People,” which is available on Bandcamp for a $1 or larger donation to the Red Cross. Singer/keyboardist Chris “Boom” Wiser said the lyrics were inspired by a quote from Fred Rogers, star of “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.”
“He said when he was a boy and would see scary things in the news, his mother would tell him to look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,” Wiser said in an email. “We feel like it's an important message for children in times of crisis.”
Aspiring songsmith Rebekah Willoughby, 15, of Chickasha, made national news with her anthem “Oklahoma Strong,” which she penned in 30 minutes the morning after the May 20 tornado. “Oklahoma Strong” is available for download on iTunes and Amazon.com. All proceeds raised will be donated to the United Way Disaster Relief Fund.
Alton Eugene, a self-described Oklahoma City believer/musician/songwriter/producer, composed the uplifting “Hope Song” after the Moore twister. He has pledged proceeds from iTunes and Amazon downloads of the song to the city of Moore's disaster fund.