OFFSTAGE: How Bunk Beds Saved Toby Keith’s Life

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Toby Keith‘s mother must be very, very strong. That’s what I was thinking when Keith described what she did when tornadoes got close to his childhood home in Moore, Okla.

“Every spring, we’d have tornadoes. I’ve been through it a hundred times in my life,” he told me when he was in Chicago recently. “When I was a kid, the sirens went off one time, and then our roof was torn up. My mom came in and said, ‘Move to the center of the house.’ We had bunk bed mattresses, so she would take a mattress and put it in a circle and stick it in the closet. Then we’d jump in there, and she’d throw the other bunk bed mattress over the top of us and shut the door.”

That’s how Keith took cover as a kid and how he learned to survive living in the tornado alley of central Oklahoma. But the tornadoes on May 20 hit the town harder than all the previous ones, killing 24 and destroying and devastating so much of the community. And just like his mother did for him, Keith has found a way to take good care of Moore.

Keith is hosting a star-studded Twister Relief Concert on Saturday (July 6) in Norman, Okla., to raise money for the United Way of central Oklahoma. And he told CMT Radio, the University of Oklahoma has gone above and beyond to help make this happen at the Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

“With open arms, they just said, ‘Hey we want you to take this facility and help Oklahoma.’ They have been absolutely wonderful to work with,” Keith said. “They’ve knocked it out of the park. You know the football field is natural grass, so it will have to be replaced after it’s over. Coach [Bob] Stoops will have his squad on the field working in August, so they’ll only have less than a month to prepare the field.”

Even if you can’t attend Saturday’s concert, details on how you can donate are listed on Keith’s website .

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.