Skip Bolen, Getty Images for Alabama Relief
"I said, whatever you want, I'll do it," Brad recalls of his invitation to perform (quote via CMIL). "That's when they came up with the idea to do this concert. It's well thought out now, and they've taken their time in getting this ready. They didn't jump and do it the next week ... Hopefully we can fix some of what happened. Not everything, but some of it."
Jake Owen says he knew he had to do something to help the thousands of residents still struggling in the storm's aftermath. "I'm pretty lucky. We all are," acknowledges the singer-songwriter. "It doesn't take much out of our day to go down and do that and entertain people in order to raise money for a cause like that. Growing up in Florida, we were affected a lot -- multiple times, in my life three or four times -- where we lost a lot of things personally for us through hurricanes down in Florida. I've had friends who lost everything. It's a time of despair where people don't know what to do, and they're just lost. If you can do something for those people and make them feel better, obviously we try to do that."
Jake's labelmate, Kellie Pickler, says it was her fondness for the state that compelled her to action. "I love Alabama, and I've spent a lot of time in lower Alabama and Troy," explains the North Carolina native. "We've done shows through there. Man, when I saw the pictures and the footage, on television and online, I can't imagine what it would be like to wake up and see everything you've ever worked for your entire life is just scattered through the trees. It's absolutely unreal."
Kellie adds that she's happy to be part of a community of compassionate helpers. "One of the greatest things about country music, is we always, somehow or another, we always end up coming together. The people of country music, not just the artists, but the fans come together, too. We gotta take care of each other. We gotta look out for one another ... It always makes you feel good, too. When you do things like that, I feel like God's gonna bless it."
Fellow performer Sara Evans echoes Kellie's sentiment. "I'm so proud of country music for coming together and doing this benefit concert, because everybody's donating their time," Sara tells The Boot. "That's a really busy time of year for everybody, and it just warms my heart that this is taking place."
Proceeds from last night's show, which were expected to exceed one million dollars, will go through the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to a designated Bama Rising fund, with Alabama members Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry serving on the board to help disperse the funds. The band says they're committed to helping their home state well into the future.
"For us, it's a matter of continuing to go out long after this concert," Teddy says (quote via NPR.org). "This is just a drop in the bucket compared to what we need. Things we can do individually or as a group, we're going to be doing that."
Donations to the Bama Rising Fund can be made here. Brad is donating the proceeds from his No. 1 single, 'Old Alabama,' (which includes a guest appearance by Alabama), to the ongoing recovery efforts. Download the single here.