NORMAN – Toby Keith’s Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert raised about $2 million for the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund, with donations still being tallied, his publicist said in a news release issued today.
“At the end of the day, Okies, all the way back to the Dust Bowl, are kind of used to picking themselves up and making sure each other’s taken care of. Pretty amazing, resilient bunch,” Keith said backstage at the star-studded July 6 concert at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“Every time something happens (like this), music people get together. Music’s a good healing for emotions and stuff, so the emotional relief you can provide through music always works. I knew when it hit Moore that we were gonna do something, I just didn’t know … we were gonna get something of this magnitude together.”
Drawing more than 60,000 enthusiastic fans, the show set a record for the largest paid audience for a concert in the history of OU’s stadium, exceeding attendance for previous monster musical draws the Rolling Stones and U2, said Elaine Schock, Keith’s publicist. The concert is believed to be one of the biggest in state history.
The approximately $2 million raised will be donated directly to tornado relief through the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund. This money will go to local recovery efforts in the wake of a series of devastating tornadoes that hit the area in May 2013.
Keith, who was born in Clinton, raised in Moore and now lives in Norman, organized the concert after an EF5 tornado devastated Moore, which proudly touts itself as the home of Toby Keith (as proclaimed on a water tower that survived the storm).
The star-studded line up for the eight-hour concert event included Keith, Owasso residents Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn, Bethel Acres native Wade Hayes, Moore native Kellie Coffey, Keith’s daughter and fellow Norman resident Krystal Keith, Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Mel Tillis and John Anderson. Checotah native Carrie Underwood performed via satellite from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., and television personality Storme Warren emceed the event. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer, current University of Oklahoma football head coach Bob Stoops and University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione were on hand to introduce performers. Capping the Independence Day week, the night ended with a spectacular 10-minute fireworks display.
Many of those who attended the show were directly effected by the multiple tornadoes that hit the state in May, including the deadly twisters that touched down in the Shawnee, El Reno and Moore areas.
“I think we’re here to support human beings ‘cause we can’t forget about Shawnee, can’t forget about El Reno, all those towns around here where we grew up. But the fact that Moore was Toby’s hometown, the second that it happened, TK received a call from Miss Yearwood and myself saying ‘whatever, whenever, please don’t even ask us, the answer is yes.’ It’s been a very class act. The hardest thing that I’ll have to do today, which is great, is to thank the University of Oklahoma being fantastic. That’s hard for me,” said Brooks, an Oklahoma State University alumnus, backstage at the July 6 concert. “But they have been unbelievable. And I can only hope that in a crisis, if — God forbid — this ever happens anywhere around Stillwater or my hometown, I’m hoping that my college can respond in the same fashion as this college.”
Ford Trucks, Verizon Wireless, Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives, and Walmart came on board as sponsors. In addition, more sponsorship donations, underwriting of the concert and donated services from suppliers and vendors from all over the country allowed the net proceeds of tickets (after tax and credit card fees) to benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
Donations are still being accepted at www.unitedwayokc.org. Checks may be mailed to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101 with notation for May Tornadoes Relief. For more information, call 236-8441.
“I have met a lot of these artists that are coming in, I’ve been fans of ‘em for years, but it’s been pretty great to see everybody interact and everyone come together for the cause,” Krystal Keith said backstage at the July 6 show.
“This is my hometown, OU is the school that I graduated from. So (this is) my home school, my home field, home turf, hometown community cause.”
To read my full concert review of Toby Keith’s Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert, click here.