DURANT —They're needed back home, so country music superstars Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton are headed to Oklahoma.
Earlier this month an EF-3 tornado hit Tushka in Atoka County in southeastern Oklahoma close to where McEntire was raised and not far from where Shelton lives. Now, the friends and native Oklahomans have chosen to host the “Tornado Relief Concert” on May 26 in partnership with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Choctaw Casino Resort as a way to help their hometown neighbors.
The benefit concert will be at the Choctaw Event Center in Durant.
The April 14 tornado hit Tushka in late evening. There were two confirmed deaths, and more than 40 people were injured.
State officials said the tornado destroyed 150 homes and businesses and public buildings in and around the town. Another 47 had major damage, 33 had minor damage, and eight were mildly affected by the storm. All proceeds from the concert will go toward Atoka County's ongoing relief efforts through the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund.
Raised in Chockie
McEntire was raised on her family's Chockie ranch in Atoka County and graduated from Kiowa High School in Pittsburg County. She was actually a student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant when the late Clem McSpadden hired her to sing the national anthem at the 1974 National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.
“A lot of people lost a great deal in this disaster and it's particularly close to us because we both consider Oklahoma home,” said McEntire. “We wanted to do something and let the people in Oklahoma know that we love them and we're praying for them during this difficult tragedy.”
McEntire's music career has produced more than 55 million in worldwide album sales, 63 Top 10 hits, 15 American Music Awards, nine People's Choice Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards and two Grammys. Last month it was announced that McEntire will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the “Modern Era Artist” category.
Shelton is an Ada native. He currently resides in Tishomingo in Johnston County, which borders Atoka County.
“Oklahoma defines who I am and seeing the effects this disaster has had on my neighbors, I knew I had to do something,” said Shelton. “Reba and I have a lot of love for this state and we wanted to do what we can to help. This place is my home and these people are family to us.”
In the past year, Shelton has won numerous awards including the Country Music Association Award for “Male Vocalist of the Year,” had three consecutive No. 1's — “Who Are You When I'm Not Looking,” “All About Tonight” and “Hillbilly Bone” — sold out shows on his first ever headlining tour “All About Tonight Tour,” had his first No. 1 album All About Tonight, received his first Grammy nomination and is currently a coach on NBC's “The Voice” which premiered Tuesday.
What: “Tornado Relief Concert” hosted by Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton When: May 26 Where: Choctaw Event Center, Durant. Why: On April 14, a tornado hit Tushka in Atoka County. All proceeds from the “Tornado Relief Concert” will go towards Atoka County's ongoing relief efforts through the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund. Tickets: Tickets will be available beginning at 10 a.m. May 6 and may be purchased by phone at (800) 585-3737 or online at www.choctawcasinos.com. Fundraising campaign: In addition to the proceeds raised from the concert, a special mobile fundraising campaign has been set up with The mGive Foundation to raise funds for relief efforts. Fans can text “OKGIVE” to 27722 to make a one-time $10 donation which will be added to their monthly cell phone bill. Funds will be donated to The mGive Foundation for the benefit of the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund. Checks can also be made out to the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund and mailed to: 101 SE 1st Street, Tushka, OK 74525.