Oklahoma country music superstar Toby Keith, who was born in Clinton, raised in Moore and now lives in Norman, talked with the Associated Press about Monday’s massive EF5 tornado and its impact on his family and hometown in this video interview.
The hitmaker told the AP he will plan a benefit concert to raise money to help the community recover, but his first priority is helping people now, especially his family.
His said his sister-in-law, niece and sister all had their houses hit by the tornado. His sister is now staying with his mom, while the other two are living with him for the time being.“So it hit three of my direct family members; (their houses are) not wiped off the face of the Earth, but unlivable. No doors. No windows. Roof knocked in. But the shell is still there so they can dig out their photo albums and jewelry and stuff like that, stuff that they’d want and then get it back going. So we’re trying to get around here today and get ‘em all boarded up and get ‘em taken care of,” he told the AP.
According to the Associated Press, Keith flew out of the Moore area at about noon Monday and said the gathering clouds on the western horizon gave him a bad feeling. After he arrived in his Nashville recording studio Monday afternoon, he watched the storm system on an iPad app. So when he saw the tornado rolling down Fourth Street through his old neighborhood and toward his sister Tonni’s house, he picked up the phone to warn her.
“She said, ‘We’re safe. We’re south of it, but we can see it,’” Keith told the AP. “She was at my mother’s about a mile away. I said, ‘Well, good.’ Then she got to watch it go right through her neighborhood.”
Keith told the AP he had tornadoes pass a few miles to the north and south of his house on consecutive days.
Sunday’s storm damaged parts of nearby Shawnee, killing two. Monday’s storm killed 24 people — including 10 children — in Moore.
During recording breaks, Keith told the AP he fielded calls about putting together a benefit for tornado victims. He said he’s been in contact with the University of Oklahoma about possibly using the football stadium.
“I know as soon as I start sending out some feelers that I’ll get a lot of people in there,” Keith told the AP. “Hopefully, we can use music to heal some of the money problems right away.”