Kid Rock once sagely said, “If it looks good, you’ll see it. If it sounds good, you’ll hear it. If it is marketed right, you’ll buy it. But if it’s real, you’ll feel it.” He is absolutely right. Much of the time, people turn to music to find a friend or discover an escape; songs and their lyrics have an impeccable ability of touching our hearts and changing our lives when the words are just right. Knowing that there is an artist who sings or writes songs that parallel our personal experiences is comforting, reminding us that even in the most difficult of situations, we are never alone.
Tragedy has hit our country in multiple ways during the past year; the most recent incident was the devastating tornado that destroyed much of Moore, Oklahoma in very little time. Homes were swept away, schools were flattened, trees were uprooted; but most heartbreaking was the twenty-four lives that were lost, ten of which were innocent children. The recovery process began immediately after the storm abated, proving just how admirably resilient Oklahomans are. The rest of the nation has pitched in to assist with relief efforts, exemplifying that despite unresolved differences, in times of disaster, Americans have and always will unite to support one another.
The country music industry has done an excellent job of donating time and funds to the recovery effort. Toby Keith, a native of Moore, flew to his hometown to evaluate the devastation and lend a hand as a volunteer. Carrie Underwood, who was already donating a dollar from every ticket purchased on her sold-out Blown Away Tour to the Red Cross, gave one million to the recovery process in her home state. Most public, however, was the musical telethon Blake Shelton pulled together at the last minute. Healing in the Heartland, the all-star fundraising special that aired Wednesday night on NBC, boasted incredible performances from some of country’s biggest artists: Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, and Reba McEntire. The concert was held in front of a packed crowed at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in the United Way of Central Oklahoma, giving its natives a wonderful distraction from the incurred tornado damage while simultaneously helping the area heal.
One of the highlights of the evening was undoubtedly Miranda Lambert’s moving performance of the song that launched her successful revolution, “The House That Built Me”. The song reduced me to tears when I first heard it, a period in time during which I had finally adjusted from our sudden move and just as quickly had to accept that my new friends and I were graduating from high school; creating a sense of home became a tricky task, until I finally learned that home is wherever my heart is. This song became the support I needed and has proved time and again to fit any situation, lyrically paralleling the needs of the listener. Wednesday night, “The House That Built Me” successfully reasserted that role, consequently bringing Lambert to tears as she hit the second verse and jutted out her microphone for the audience to sing the words while she quickly composed herself.
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it/this brokenness inside me my start healing. Many of the victims of Moore, Oklahoma lost the houses that built them; their personal belongings and fond memories were turned into materialistic carnage by the impact of the tornado, forcing them to suddenly rebuild their entire lives. A fresh batch of twisters has just hit the state as I write this.
Healing in the Heartland raised six million dollars to benefit the tornado victims, and thousands were touched by the poignant performances. Now more than ever, our country craves the normalcy that music provides. Music has the power to heal, the power to lift spirits and connect hearts at the most tragic of times. It is music that will guide the state of Oklahoma back into security, bringing the country together to help its neighbors rebuild.