Since the day after a devastating EF5 tornado tore through his hometown of Moore, Toby Keith has been planning a benefit concert to aid the recovery efforts.
The Oklahoma music superstar announced Thursday that he and an all-star country lineup will play the Toby Keith Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert on July 6 at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman.
The lineup of performers, now being assembled, includes Owasso residents Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn and Texas icon Willie Nelson.
Doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and show time is set for 3 p.m. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. June 21, at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000. All seats are $25, all-inclusive, all seats reserved, with an eight-ticket purchase limit, according to an email from Keith's publicist.
Proceeds will benefit The United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund. Updates on the event and lineup will be posted at www.tobykeith.com.
For Keith, the event and the May storms that led to it are deeply personal. His sister and other relatives experienced severe home damage in the May 20 tornado, he has said in interviews.
“I grew up in Moore, I live in Norman and I've got lots of family and friends who were directly affected,” he said in the email. “I know these folks and they're resilient, but we're going to keep helping them any way we can. I'm proud to get together with some others from around here who are just as committed as I am to supporting these communities.”
The Clinton native, 51, also hosted a benefit concert after the May 3, 1999, tornado that ravaged Moore, with Dunn appearing on that show's lineup as well. In the past several years, Keith has rarely played in his home state and then mostly for special events like the 2005 Oklahoma City National Memorial anniversary concert and 2007 Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular.
For the semiretired Brooks, 51, Oklahoma performances have become even rarer. The Tulsa native last played in his home state in July 1997, when he performed a series of Oklahoma City and Tulsa concerts. He appeared but did not sing at the Centennial Spectacular and 2008 BOK Center grand opening.
In the midst of his booming career, Brooks retired from touring in 2001, delivered his last record for Capitol Records and moved back to Oklahoma to raise his three daughters. In 2009, he emerged from retirement to begin a five-year stint performing acoustic shows at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. But he has mostly performed at special events, such as President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration and charity concerts. In December 2011, he and Yearwood played a series of nine arena shows in Nashville that raised $5 million for the flood relief efforts in Tennessee.
Brooks was already booked to play a July 6 return engagement at the Wynn Las Vegas when Keith began organizing his Twister Relief Concert. But Brooks' publicist said the Country Music Hall of Famer decided to fit both shows into his schedule.
“Garth is opening the show in Oklahoma and then getting in a plane for his show in Vegas. Thankfully the time difference allows (him to do) both,” Nancy Seltzer said in an email.
For Brooks, who grew up in Yukon, the deadly May tornadoes hit close to home and heart.
“Once we got the news that the tornado had hit Toby's hometown, Miss Yearwood and I told Toby we were at his service for whatever he chose to do,” Brooks says in the email. “I am amazed at the human spirit the tornado victims have shown. I am humbled by the giving of the volunteers. It is an honor to get to be a part of this healing process.”