CMT News

9/11 Remembered by Country Artists
Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith and Others Recall Their Responses to Terrorist Attacks
Seth McAllister/AFP/Getty Images
Seth McAllister/AFP/Getty Images
We all have our own vivid memories of where we were and what we were doing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when we first became aware of the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of innocent Americans in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

On the 10th anniversary of the tragedy that changed our nation, CMT.com wanted to share the recollections of several prominent country artists who, like the rest of us, will never forget what they saw, heard and felt that day. The artists' comments are listed in alphabetical order:

I got up early that morning. I went out in the garage, and I was sitting out there smoking a cigarette, drinking a cup of coffee and watching Imus. All the sudden, they switched away from Imus, and there it was. ... A plane had hit one of the towers. I was just like, "You idiot. What the hell is wrong with you? You couldn't see that building?" Then I was sitting there, actually watching it when the second one flew into the frame. ... Then I was just in shock. -- Trace Adkins

I was in bed. I was living in Nashville then, just writing songs. And as I started getting ready, I turned the TV on, and I was just thinking a plane had hit the building by accident. Then I see the other plane come in and hit it, and then all these other things started happening, like at the Pentagon. A lot of feelings were going on. I was pissed, and I was scared. -- Jason Aldean

We played a fair in Pennsylvania on Sept. 10, and we were supposed to have driven from Pennsylvania into New York City that night and start shooting my video that morning, basically a block away from the World Trade Center the morning all this happened. But we canceled the video a couple of weeks before then, and I'd forgotten all about it. And I woke up that morning, I was on the bus. I think we were traveling through Virginia, and I went up to the front of the bus and turned the TV on to CNN and saw what had happened. It didn't hit me at first. I was laying on the couch, just watching this and couldn't believe what I was seeing, and I thought, "Oh, my God." I said, "We're supposed to be there." And it was a weird feeling. You know, I've always believed in guardian angels, but it really makes you believe that there's something up there. I'm glad we weren't there. I mean, I feel for everybody that was there. I think we've all been changed forever by it. -- Kenny Chesney

I was driving into work -- the Shop at Home Network. I really couldn't grasp what had happened until I got to work and saw it for myself on television. I remember I watched the second plane hit the tower in real time. I had just moved to Nashville earlier that year, and all I remember is wanting to go home and be with those I loved. I'll never forget that feeling. -- Eric Church

The event in New York occurred on the 11th, and I believe we had a show on the 13th or 14th. About 30 minutes before the show, it hit me that the first line in the show is, "Sun comin' up over New York City." The crowd was so loud every occasion that we did it that, we had to stop. Then we went on after that, and then the audience was a sea of American flags. -- Ronnie Dunn on performing "Only in America" just days after 9/11

I was at home. It was on the television that the first building had already been hit, and the second one hadn't yet. I'm sure like most people, I was shocked ... like it wasn't real. It seemed like a movie or something. -- Alan Jackson

I was in my gym working out about six or seven days after the attack on the U.S. and got to thinking about how everybody's written these songs about the sorrow we've gone through and how bad we feel about it, but nobody has put one together about how angry we are. So I thought about my dad, being the veteran he was and the flag-flying patriot he was. He served in the Army. He did lose his right eye. He did come home, and he never did gripe about it. So that's the reason I wrote the song -- for him. -- Toby Keith, on writing "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)"

I was in college, and, yeah, it was wild. I woke up, was getting ready to go to class. And I had a roommate come in and say, 'Man, turn on the TV. Classes are canceled. You won't believe.' ... And we all got up and watched it. It was just wild. It's hard to put into words. I can remember it, and everybody can. It had such a huge effect on everybody. -- Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum

I was at home in Nashville, and my husband called me on the phone and said, 'You need to turn on the TV because you're not gonna believe what's happened.' So I ran out and turned on the television, and he said he was coming home. He came home, and we sat there for about the next three or four hours just completely in shock and watching everything happen like the rest of the nation did that day. This was really the first event in my lifetime that happened that made me really realize the pride that I have in being an American and being part of this amazing country. -- Martina McBride

I was playing golf with a friend early in the morning. ... I lived in New York, kind of, at the time. If you looked out my bedroom window, we saw the World Trade Center. I was on my way back home. I was playing a 7 o'clock round of golf and then I was catching a noon flight. When I was finishing up, we stopped in to get a drink, and I looked and we saw the second tower come down. It was a vicious day. -- Darius Rucker

I was just at my apartment over in Kingston Springs, Tenn. I woke up and turned on the news and realized that I'm not watching something that happened in another country, I'm watching something that happened here -- to us. As I'm watching the live footage, I saw the other plane come into the other building and hit it. Whoever the news anchor was was saying, "Oh, my God. That wasn't a replay. That just happened, too." I remember. It gives me chills talking about it right now. I mean, it's just one of those moments that's one of the most important moments of my life, all of our lives, and you don't forget those. -- Blake Shelton

It probably reiterated to me the importance of enjoying life while we do have it. Because life is much, much shorter than we all think and can be taken from us in a blink of an eye. So, you know, you've gotta put food on the table. You've got to satisfy your career aspirations. But I think you have to keep it in perspective with also living life. -- Keith Urban

The attack occurred as we were in the air, and we landed in Boston. My wife and family are just going crazy, and we're going on a hunting trip way up in Maine and fishing at this beautiful place. Really looking forward to it. Well, after they got us off of that plane, they let us sit out there for a while. We realized what happened and went back to the hotel. I said, "You know what? I could care less about going on this fishing and hunting trip." I said, "This is worse than Pearl Harbor." -- Hank Williams Jr.

"I was in American history class in high school. Someone came in from another classroom and told us. Everybody was just dead silent. And I'll never forget it: My teacher looked at us, and she said, 'Y'all need to remember what's running through your head right now because we will be teaching this in this class later on.'" -- Chris Young

The comments were compiled with the assistance of CMT Radio and CMT.com columnist Alison Bonaguro.
CMT - Get country.