With the news that more tornadoes have hit in Oklahoma and Arkansas it is almost poetic that on Wednesday the Healing the Heartland benefit was performed to aid those affected by the May 20 F5 tornado that devastated Oklahoman towns. Blake Shelton and Usher joined up the sing at the benefit capping the evening off with Michael Buble’s Home.
Any other time, the two singers would be engaged in a little friendly and jokey banter on stage as they sit next to one another on the singing competition show, The Voice.
Wednesday night the two men joined a roster of country music stars to raise money for the victims of the May 20 tornado that took the lives of 24 people in Oklahoma. The tornadoes spread a wide path of death and destruction that, thankfully missed the families of those singers who hail from that state.
Singers like Blake Shelton, who comes from Oklahoma, and Usher who has family that live there joined to take part after Shelton organised the Healing the Heartland telethon. The singer reacted quickly after hearing the news of the deaths and destruction and he and his wife, country singer Miranda Lambert set the ball rolling for the benefit.
The show opened with ominous images of the F5 tornado that all but flattened the city of Moore and Shelton’s performance of “God Gave Me You,” which features the lyrics, “But you stayed here beside me/Watch as the storm blows through/And I need you.”
Shelton, a native son of Ada, Oklahoma, organized the one-hour concert benefiting the United Way of Central Oklahoma at the sold-out 14,000-capacity Chesapeake Energy Arena. The special aired on NBC, as well as CMT, Style, G4, Bravo, E! and Palladia.
As the show began Blake Shelton said to the audience,”I’m here tonight with some of my closest friends from Oklahoma and beyond to join in and help with the rebuilding and recovery of this land that means so much to me.” Obviously one of those close friends was Usher who joined the country star to sing later in the Healing in the Heartland show at the finale.
One of the highlights of the benefit was an emotional performance of “The House That Built Me” by Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert. The country star, whose mission was to raise awareness about the animals affected by the storm, was so overcome with emotion that halfway through the song she began to cry which prompted the audience to sing the words for her as she regained her composure.
Shelton and Usher capped the night of touching tributes with a duet on Michael Bublé’s “Home,” which featured Shelton strumming an acoustic guitar. Usher sat on a stool beside his fellow judge from The Voice and softly sang along as images of the storm’s aftermath flashed on the big screen behind the two singers.
At one point in the middle of the song, Shelton asked the audience, “Man, is there anybody in the world cooler than Usher?”
Among the list of country singers who donated their time and money to the benefit were Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire and Luke Bryan. An additional group of country stars taped messages of support. The Oklahoma natives, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood all sent messages, as well as Alicia Keys, Jimmy Fallon, Toby Keith and NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson.
Tulsa-bred OneRepublic singer Tedder sang one of the night’s only uptempo tunes, a high-energy, countrified take on “Counting Stars” that was accompanied by a video of shooting stars that inspired some dancing in the aisles.
If you missed the benefit where Usher and Blake Shelton joined to sing Buble’s home for the benefit Healing in the Heartland you have our sympathy, but if you still want to donate to the cause, call 1-800-890-4999, or text REBUILD to 52000 to make a $10 donation.
By Michael Smith