Oklahoma tornado benefit concert unites nation's music stars

OKLAHOMA CITY Thu May 30, 2013 2:04am EDT

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Music stars from across the nation joined forces in Oklahoma on Wednesday in a benefit concert for victims of the deadly tornado that struck the state last week.

Tickets for the "Healing in the Heartland" concert, held at Oklahoma City's roughly 20,000-capacity Chesapeake Arena and broadcast on NBC television, sold out in minutes when they went on sale on Saturday.

It closed with a duet between Oklahoma-born country singer Blake Shelton, who is a judge on NBC singing competition "The Voice," and Grammy winning R&B star Usher. They sang "Home", co-written and recorded by crooner Michael Buble.

The event was broadcast as a telethon to raise funds for the victims of the twister that killed 24 people, including seven children, when it tore through Moore, Oklahoma, and surrounding areas on May 20. It ranked as an EF-5, the most powerful category for tornadoes.

Organizers did not disclose how much money they raised.

Shelton told reporters before the concert that he and his fellow entertainers were committed to helping out.

"People have given so much to us over the years and it's times like this when you can give back," Shelton said. "You have to. It's not a question of ‘will you?' You have to step up."

Other performers in the concert included Reba McEntire, who like Shelton was born in Oklahoma, Ryan Tedder of the band OneRepublic and country singer Miranda Lambert, who is married to Shelton.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis; and John Stonestreet)