Lambert performs for tornado relief. Photo: NBCYou have to hand it to Blake Shelton: The native Oklahoman, upon hearing of the devastation wrought in his home state May 20, was able to call on an admirable list of talent in a remarkably short amount of time to put together an all-star benefit concert airing a little more than one week later on a major network.
Still, despite that, the show managed to go to the dogs.
And that's meant literally. Although the one-hour program was stuffed full of touching performances from A-list names (mostly from the world of country music), one in particular had the audience choking back tears: Miranda Lambert's rendition of "The House That Built Me," which she did in tribute to some of the most forgotten victims of all--pets who are lost or displaced during natural disasters.
Lambert was so overcome by emotion during the song, which featured wrenching photographs of animals being helped via rescue efforts--that she had to stop singing for a moment. While she composed herself, she held her microphone out to the audience. Before leaving the stage, she wiped tears away as a particularly haunting photo of a big-eyed pup flashed on the screen behind her.
It was a remarkably crystal-clear heartfelt moment in a show clearly carefully planned to honor the severity of the disaster, which struck the local town of Moore and killed 24, including several children.
Shelton compiled not only his nearest and dearest (wife Lambert, best friend Reba McEntire, and fellow "Voice" coach Usher--who performed a moving duet with Shelton) but also a fairly diverse roster including some unexpected names, some giving PSAs in lieu of performing. Native sons and daughters Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood and Garth Brooks all made appearances as might be expected; but so did Alicia Keys, Jay Leno, and Jimmy Fallon. Country's current heartthrob Luke Bryan showed up to play; as did Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, and One Republic's Ryan Tedder.
Besides Lambert's tearjerking performance, the most quietly poignant moment probably came from Gill, who said simply, "I'd like to do this for the 24 people who didn't make it," before playing his gentle ode to the end of life, "Threaten Me With Heaven."
Viewers were directed to donate to the United Way's tornado relief fund by texting, calling or via the organization's Facebook page.