NORMAN — Thousands were in a fever pitch Saturday as Toby Keith’s Twister Relief Concert kicked off at the University of Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium.
The sold-out crowd cheered with palpable excitement in anticipation of hearing a star-studded lineup including Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Ronnie Dunn, Krystal Keith, Kellie Coffey, Mel Tillis and John Anderson as well as Carrie Underwood via satellite from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.
Keith, Moore native and Norman resident, was effected personally by the May tornadoes, with both a sister and sister-in-law hit by the storms. After seeing the destruction first hand, Keith said he knew he had to do something to assist with recovery efforts. Though Keith described the concert planning process as “herding cats,” he said efforts were well worth it for all proceeds to go toward the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
“It’s all about love today,” Keith said.
The concert began at 3 p.m. with Krystal Keith singing the national anthem, complete with a jet fly over.
After a short set by Tillis and Coffey, Brooks took the stage and was greeted with audience members with their hands in the air, singing along to every one of his songs.
Brooks, Oklahoma native, said he and his wife, Yearwood, were happy to be a part of relief efforts, and gave credit to all contributing in rebuilding efforts throughout the state.
“The healing process starts today,” he said. “Now let’s smile. Let’s be joyful.”
Special guests between sets included OU football coach Bob Stoops and former coach Barry Switzer, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione, City of Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.
Between performances the audience also watched artist one-on-one interviews led by concert emcee Storme Warren, photo montages of tornado destruction and local news reels of tornado stories.