“Everyday people are the ones who are making miracles / And it’s beautiful,” Reba McEntire sings on the chorus of “Everyday People,” her 2007 duet with Carole King.
On Wednesday night, as McEntire performed the song in Oklahoma, those words held truer than ever before, especially with the backdrop of destruction and the hope that it brought.
McEntire was just one of many performers at the Healing in the Heartland concert in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena, which benefited those whose lives were impacted by the tornadoes that ravaged parts of the state on May 20. The one-hour show, organized by country artist and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton, featured a number of musicians, all of whom urged viewers to donate to United Way’s tornado relief fund by texting, calling or visiting the organization’s Facebook page.
Shelton kicked off the evening with a heartfelt performance of “God Gave Me You,” he and his backing band donned in black. “But you stay here beside me / Watch as the storm blows through / And I need you,” he sang, before explaining the methods viewers and attendees could follow to donate to the relief efforts.
Shelton wasn’t the only Oklahoma native to perform. Fellow country star Vince Gill served up one of the more poignant moments of the evening. “It’s sure good to be home. I’d like to do this song for 24 people that didn’t make it,” Gill said, referencing the lives lost in the tornado before performing an intimate “Threaten Me With Heaven.”
Fellow Oklahoman and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, Shelton’s “Tulsa buddy,” appeared sans his usual band on “Counting Stars,” one of the more upbeat tunes of the evening, against a backdrop of shooting stars while he danced across the stage.
Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert, sang a tribute to the pets lost or displaced during the storms. “The House That Built Me” featured shots of animals found in the rescue efforts, while Lambert, overcome with emotion, prompted the audience to sing along while she gathered her composure.
The evening’s only collaboration included The Voice cohorts Shelton and Usher, who teamed up on Michael Buble‘s “Home.”
Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts filled out the evening’s country music leanings. Bryan performed one of the night’s more upbeat tunes with “Crash My Party,” while Rucker delivered a positive message on “True Believers.” Rascal Flatts, meanwhile, delivered a stripped-down “I’ll Stand By You,” flanked by hundreds of lighters in the crowd.
In addition to the performances, many celebrities appeared onscreen to express their support for the relief efforts, including country legend Garth Brooks, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and NBC late-night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno.
Tickets for the Heartland concert went on sale the morning of May 25 and sold out in less than five minutes, according to NBC, which aired a live broadcast. The concert also aired on cable networks Style, G4, Bravo, E! and CMT on either a live or delayed basis.