Star-Studded ‘Bama Rising’ Concert for Tornado Relief Deemed a Success

Posted June 15, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Country music stars, Alabama heroes assembles for “successful” charity event

A packed house of 13,000 music fans at Birmingham, Ala.’s BJCC Arena proved to be just the kind of good news organizers of ‘Bama Rising’ wanted. The June 14 event, a charity benefit concert focusing on raising monies for statewide disaster relief, lured some of the greatest country superstars to town, including Dierks Bentley, Sheryl Crow, Little Big Town, Sara Evans and Brad Paisley. After kicking off a CMT charity fundraiser with Hank Williams, Jr., Randy Owen of country group Alabama spearheaded the task of assembling country heavyweights together for a night destined to impact the state of Alabama in support of its recovery process after the tornado outbreaks of April 27. “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.”

Brad Paisley, who united Alabama together on his recently-released hit single “Old Alabama,” felt obligated to participate in the event. “I said, whatever you want, I’ll do it,” Paisley told Country Music Is Love about the invitation to perform. “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.”

Sara Evans was also welcomed at the opportunity to perform. “I’m so proud of country music for coming together and doing this benefit concert, because everybody’s donating their time,” Evans tells The Boot. “That’s a really busy time of year for everybody, and it just warms my heart that this is taking place.”

The event also showcased some of Alabama’s musical heroes in other genres. The Blind Boys of  Alabama opened the show with a rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace,” while Walter Orange and fellow members of the Commodores made an unexpected appearance in the show, performing their funk hit “Brick House.”

Other momentous occasions during the eighty-minute show was Alabama debuting a new heartfelt charity single called “Raising Alabama.” American Idol winner Taylor Hicks sung “Nineteen,” a song about a fallen soldier who gave his life during the call of duty. Idol finalist Bo Bice found joy singing the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit “Sweet Home Alabama” while Brad Paisley and Alabama performed together on “Old Alabama” as the new music video played on a giant screen behind the band.

All proceeds raised from the event, which has been totaled well over $1 million, will benefit the ‘Bama Rising Fund’. People can still donate by visiting the event’s official website at and by purchasing the new charity single, “Rising Alabama” via download at iTunes.

Rodney Atkins pictured above; photo courtesy of Skip Bolen

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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