By Caitlin R. King Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country music singers Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum joined other entertainment stars Sunday in performing and answering phones to help raise more than $1.5 million for flood relief for Tennessee.
“If there is a silver lining, it’s that the world is getting to see Nashville at its best through this tragedy,” Paisley said during the telethon on the GAC Network.
Paisley kicked off the telethon with an energized version of his song “Welcome to the Future.” When he finished, he looked into the audience where his wife, actress Kimberly Williams Paisley, was standing as the show’s co-host.
“My wife’s up there. I think it’s time to start things off with a donation. We’re going to donate $100,000, get it going,” he said, before asking his wife with a sheepish grin, “Is that OK?”
Paisley also performed “River and Rain” and a full band version of “American Saturday Night” featuring Dierks Bentley on acoustic guitar.
Sheryl Crow took the stage to perform a new song, calling herself a newcomer in Nashville since moving here five years ago.
“I’ve lived a lot of different places, but I’ve never felt home until I lived here,” she said.
Kellie Pickler, wearing an I (heart) Nashville flood relief T-shirt, performed her new single, “Making Me Fall in Love Again.”
“I couldn’t be more proud to now be a citizen of Nashville. I love it here,” she said.
Lady Antebellum sang an acoustic version of their No. 1 hit “Need You Now” and later performed “I Run to You.”
“Being a Nashville native, born and raised here, it’s been so beautiful to see how the city has rallied together,” singer Hillary Scott said. “I know we will get back to the city that we once were. I know we will.”
Urban chose to do an acoustic version of The Beatles’ song “Help,” while his wife, Nicole Kidman, watched from the side of the stage. Before performing a second song, “Better Life,” Urban recounted his personal flooding experience.
“We certainly weren’t spared. Our place out in Franklin, we had quite a bit of damage out there. And other than a lot of my musical equipment — which floated down the river toward Smyrna, I think is where it was seen last — it’s just been a very moving experience for me,” he said.
Like Paisley, the head of Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta, donated $100,000.
All the performers also worked the phone banks. The phone lines were to stay open after the show, and the total money raised will be known later today.
Other performers included Martina McBride, Rodney Atkins, new artist Randy Montana, gospel singer CeCe Winans, blues singer Keb’ Mo’, and Christian artist Jaci Velasquez.
Singer Will Hoge closed the show with a soulful performance of the song “Washed By The Water.” By the end of the song, everyone was on their feet, singing the chorus, “Down here we’re washed by the water, the water can’t wash us away.”
The concert and telethon aired live and commercial free from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on GAC.
All money will go to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. At least 2,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in Nashville by the deadly flooding that struck Tennessee May 1-2. Damages have been estimated at $1.5 billion and climbing.
Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee: www.cfmt.org