“I’m here tonight with some of my closest friends from Oklahoma and beyond to help with the rebuilding of this land that means so much to me,” Blake Shelton said to kick off his Healing in the Heartland event on Wednesday night (May 29). The proceeds from the one-hour show will be going to the United Way to fund Oklahoma’s short- and long-term needs.
Shelton didn’t waste any time getting down to the business of music for the Oklahoma City event that sold out the Chesapeake Energy Arena just five minutes after tickets went on sale. “God Gave Me You” was his opening song, with a slight lyric change toward the end: “He gave me people like you all,” Shelton sang.
Darius Rucker was there to show his support, doing “True Believers.” As was Miranda Lambert, who could barely get through “The House That Built Me” without crying. Rascal Flatts took the stage to sing “I Won’t Let Go,” and Ryan Tedder from One Republic performed the band’s “Counting Stars.”
Later in the night, Reba McEntire came out to sing “Everyday People” and to recognize the first responders in the audience. Luke Bryan also came in for the show and performed his new single, “Crash My Party.”
The highlight of the night seemed to be Vince Gill saying, “It’s sure good to be home.” He sang his Grammy-nominated “Threaten Me With Heaven.” It was the perfect choice, because, as Gill said, he was doing it for the 24 people who didn’t make it.
Pleas for help poured in from stars throughout the show. In video footage, Carrie Underwood said, “Long after the tornado has gone, and the camera crews have left, the devastation will remain. Please join me in helping.” Then Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood each took time to ask for viewers to lend a hand. “Sixteen minutes,” Brooks said. “That’s the only warning these people had.”
Toby Keith, who was raised right in Moore, Okla., where the tornado touched down, called attention to the day of heartbreak and heroes. “People in Oklahoma reacted as they always do in a time of crisis: with strong hands and compassionate hearts,” he said.
At the end of the show, Shelton came to the stage one more time to sing his perfectly fitting “Home,” inviting Usher — his friend from The Voice — to join him on the song, with a message that resonated far beyond Oklahoma.