The historical hallowed halls of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium echoed the harmonies of a crowd worshipping the sanctity of charity and country music at the 13th Annual Stars for Second Harvest benefit concert, hosted by hit songwriter Craig Wiseman.
Uniting the voices of both old and young in the vintage wooden pews rounding out the circle stage, Wiseman led the makeshift public choir in a night of songs and stories. Raising thousands of dollars to give back to the community through the Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee, the songwriter expressed his greatest sentiments toward the organization and feels completely honored to send the love on whenever he can.
“I think any human being in this place, especially if you’re a songwriter or you’re in music business, where stuff just kind of comes out of nowhere from heaven, you can’t explain your blessings. So you sort of seem to be in the blessing river, so letting it go on down, letting it flow through, it just seems like you gotta do that. Because it’s coming to you from nowhere, so you should just let it go. I’m very, very blessed and happy to do this. Second Harvest, like I said, is the best charity. Every dollar raised brings about four meals. We’re over a million dollars at this event,” Wiseman told Sounds Like Nashville prior to the benefit.
After Reverend K.K. Wiseman led the country congregation in prayer to bless the ‘joyful noise’ ready to fill the room, songwriting duo The Warren Brothers preached their way through some of their biggest cuts including Tim McGraw’s “Felt Good on my Lips,” “If You’re Reading This” and “Highway Don’t Care.”
But it wasn’t all seriousness as the brothers stripped down their hits, especially after admitting they love what they do thanks to stupid songs that get picked up as a joke by artists. Nodding to Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup,” Brad and Brett Warren laughed when they changed a couple final lyrics from ‘let’s have a party, let’s have a party,’ to ‘this song is funny, made a big pile of money.’
Wiseman scrapped the holy vibe and joined in on the fun by plucking a rendition of his slapstick song, “Titty’s Beer,” recorded by Montgomery Gentry after trying their hand to pen an emotional tribute to Troy Gentry’s grandma. Although Wiseman warned fans to head toward the exits, laughs ensued instead throughout each punny chorus. Returning to the original purity of the charity show, The Warren Brothers exited stage left when Wiseman pulled out an impromptu yet poignant rendition of the massive ballad of McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Screams flooded the venue from the moment young Chris Lane brought salvation through his smooth high notes in his No. 1 single, “Fix.” Charming the couples out in the seats, Lane made “For Her” an ode to all the lovers in attendance and hands swayed to the swift acoustic beat. Finishing his quick set with a favorite from his last project, the singer revived an R&B classic by Mario called “Let Me Love You.”
But it was a true second coming in the Mother Church of Country Music when Blake Shelton walked to center stage to “save Craig’s butt,” or so Wiseman’s gag gift shirt read as he cheered his friend on. Before getting into the gospel, Shelton ordained the Second Harvest Food Bank for the graces they give back to those in need.
“Second Harvest Food Bank is literally… it’s not a good cause, it literally makes a difference in people’s lives. I mean, this is a bigger deal than a good cause. So thank you guys so much for being here and supporting it. Whether you do that or not when you came by, this is a big deal for a lot of people. So thank you so much. I’m happy to be here and I guess I’m supposed to sing some s–t now. When you’re playing benefits, you can say s–t on stage, just so you know,” Shelton announced to the attentive audience.
By request, Shelton busted out his best “Ol’ Red” performance and followed quickly with a tradition drinking song by the name of “Sangria.” Dropping in his The Voice promo side, the country singer invited team member Lauren Duski to pair up on Hank Williams’ “There’s a Tear in my Beer” and even gave the famed space up to Duski to play an original of her own for the Ryman crowd.
What resonated at the finale of it all though was a big amen to the kind folks who showed up to the benefit by Blake Shelton busting out the rowdy yet beloved “Boys Round Here” number, leaving the sacred halls blessed by the joy spread throughout the benefit.