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Top country artists banded together on May 12 for Music Builds: The CMT Disaster Relief Concert , a televised effort to raise awareness and funds for the recent flooding and tornadoes that ravaged the South.
The show kicked off with Hank Williams Jr. and The Blind Boys of Alabama singing the Hank Williams classic “I Saw the Light.”
Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, television host Ellen DeGeneres, the judges of American Idol and Shania Twain also spoke during taped portions of the show. “We think of home as a safe place, but for many the natural disasters have left them with no place to call home,” Shania said in a segment.
Louisiana native Tim McGraw recorded a plea to families in the wake of new flooding issues. “This is like watching a disaster in slow motion, but there's nothing slow about the Mississippi [River]. Your home can be replaced. You can't,” said Tim. The singer later performed “My Old Friend.” Later, a taped segment featured a family whose child was born during the disasters.
In one small Alabama town of Hackleburg, winds in excess of 210 mph and an F5 tornado leveled the town, destroying 31 of the town's 32 businesses.
Segments of Sara Evans' tour of devastated parts of Alabama were shown, in which she spoke of the destruction that hit the Southern state. “Every single thing you own destroyed. How do you even begin to think about rebuilding. I still can't believe it happened. As human beings, we think it's other people whose homes get destroyed. It's such a reality check.” She performed her hit “A Little Bit Stronger.”
Meanwhile, an A-list lineup of celebrity of volunteers, including Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar, Kellie Pickler, Vince Gill and former Celebrity Apprentice contestant and model Nikki Taylor took calls for donations.
The evening's musical lineup included Keith Urban, who performed “Everybody,” a stunning version of “Bleed Red” from Ronnie Dunn and soothing harmonies from Little Big Town on “Fix You.” Gretchen Wilson sang “Angel From Montgomery” while Lady Antebellum performed a medley of Bob Marley's “Three Little Birds,” “One Love,” and a reggae version of “I Run to You.” Trace Adkins lent his warm baritone voice to the tune “Rainy Night in Georgia.”
One of the evening's most touching performances was the group Alabama, who performed the appropriately titled “My Home's In Alabama.” “We lost 34 of our citizens. These are people we knew and friends of ours. We sing this song for our friends in Alabama. We love you and are praying for you,” lead singer Randy Owen said prior to performing.
All donations benefit the Red Cross. Donations can be made by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.