Telethon Raises $1.7 Million for Flood Relief

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Country stars came out in droves to the Ryman Auditorium and the Nashville Convention Center on Sunday, May 16 to give their time and talent to GAC's Music City: Keep On Playin’ flood relief telethon. While a star-studded show went on inside the Ryman, volunteers were lined up at the Nashville Convention Center to man the phone banks, raising over $1.7 million (and counting!) to benefit those affected by the recent Nashville flooding.

Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Atkins, Kellie PIckler, and Christian artists Jaci Velasquez and Cece Winans all performed to a sold-out Ryman Auditorium crowd as James Denton and Kimberly Williams-Paisley hosted the show. Brad performed his hits "Welcome to the Future" and "American Saturday Night," while Keith Urban offered up a rendition of "Better Life." Martina McBride's show-stopping "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" garnered a standing ovation, as did Lady Antebellum's slowed down, intimate version of "Need You Now."

Not content to just sing and talk about the devastation, many of the performers took part by answering the phones as well. "I just answered phones a little bit, which I’m sure I just screwed every one of those up," joked Brad. "One lady said she'd been out of work for 13 months and couldn’t come [to Nashville] this year. But she wanted to give some of the money she would have spent on vacation here. She donated like $50," he told Country Weekly. "It’s pretty neat. This town especially, though, we have great people and you’re seeing that. It’s one thing to say ‘we’re great people’ but it’s another thing to show it.” Keith Urban's wife Nicole Kidman also answered phones, and one lucky pledge giver was able to speak to both Keith and Nicole. Other non-performing artists who handled calls included Joey + Rory, Lorrie Morgan, James Otto, Julie Roberts and Whitney Duncan.

Besides pledges from callers, several high profile contributions were made during the course of the show. Brad Paisley and wife Kimberly donated $100,000 to the cause. Comcast made a $50,000 gift while Delta Airlines presented a check for $100,000. The Academy of Country Music's Lifting Lives program also offered $250,00, while Scott Borchetta and Big Machine Records offered $100,000.

In the Nashville Convention Center's media room, nearly all the artists spoke about how the flooding affected them, their neighborhoods, and the Nashville music community. "The picture of the Opry House was wild. That was when it really hit home. I guess you’d never think of Nashville being something that could be hit by too much water. It’s just very surprising," said Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley.

Rodney Atkins shared how his family lost their dog during the storms, only to find that a neighbor who had suffered severe damage to his own home was caring for the pet. "They had taken the time to make a sign that said 'Black Lab Found.' My wife went there and sure enough, there’s our dog sitting there and being taken care of. When it touches your friends, it touches you."

Though the show is over, you can still donate to the Music City: Keep On Playin’ efforts.

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