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Country Music Stars Remember 9/11

by Matthew Wilson
Country Music Stars Remember Where They Were On 9/11
Photo credit: Peter J. Eckel/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Most Americans remember where they were when 9/11 happened. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were a life changing moment and have defined most of the 21st Century. This year marks the 19th anniversary of the attacks. Country stars, past and present, remembered where they were on that 2001 day.

Eric Church had been driving on 9/11.

“I really couldn’t grasp what had happened until I got to work and saw it for myself on television. I remember I watched the second plane hit the tower in real time,” Eric Church told CMT. He had just moved to Nashville earlier in the year. “All I remember is wanting to go home and be with those I loved. I’ll never forget that feeling.”

Alan Jackson wrote a song to process his grief about 9/11.

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“The first plane had already hit. I was standing there when the second one hit,” Alan Jackson told Christianity Today. Jackson wrote the song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” about the event. “I didn’t want to write a patriotic song, and I didn’t want it to be vengeful, either. But I didn’t want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day.”

Charles Kelley’s birthday is on 9/11.

The Lady A member Charles Kelly had turned 20 when the terrorist attacks happened.

“That’s my birthday, believe it or not,” Kelley said. “I was in college, and it was wild. I woke up was getting ready to go to class, and I had a roommate come in and say, ‘Man, turn on the TV. Classes are cancelled. You won’t believe [it].’ He had had an earlier class, and he comes in and said, ‘Turn on the TV!’ And we all got up and watched it.”

Toby Keith also wrote a song about the event.

Toby Keith wrote the song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”. The song channeled both Keith’s feelings about the attacks.

“I was in my gym working out about six or seven days after the attack on the U.S. and got to thinking about how everybody’s written these songs about the sorrow we’ve gone through and how bad we feel about it,” Keith told CMT. “But nobody has put one together about how angry we are.

Keith also intended the song to be a tribute to veterans and his own father who served in the Army.

“So I thought about my dad, being the veteran he was and the flag-flying patriot he was,” he said. “He did lose his right eye. He did come home, and he never did gripe about it. So that’s the reason I wrote the song — for him.”

Martina McBride watched the event in shock with her husband.

“I was at home in Nashville. My husband called me on the phone and said, ‘You need to turn on the TV because you’re not gonna believe what’s happened,'” Martina McBride told CMT. “So I ran out and turned on the television. And he said he was coming home. He came home, and we sat there for about the next three or four hours just completely in shock and watching everything happen like the rest of the nation did that day.”

Kenny Chesney was almost in New York City on 9/11.

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Kenny Chesney had planned to shoot a music video in New York City. He would have been blocks from the World Trade Center, but a few weeks before the attacks, those plans got cancelled.

“I think we were traveling through Virginia, and I went up to the front of the bus and turned the TV on to CNN and saw what had happened,” Chesney told CMT. “It didn’t hit me at first. I was laying on the couch, just watching this and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God.’ I said, ‘We’re supposed to be there.’ And it was a weird feeling.”

Sara Evans cried with her mother on the phone on 9/11.

“I was in Venice, Italy, on 9/11. Such a strange and scary experience to have been in a foreign country when my home was under attack,” Sara Evans told Taste of Country. “I’ll never forget finally being able to get my mother on the phone. We both cried at hearing each other’s voice. I didn’t know when, if ever, I would get home again.”

Zac Brown was reminded of the cost for freedom.

“It was right around September 11; I was living with a Marine friend of mine,” Zac Brown told The Boot. “I was realizing how fortunate we are to be free, travel and to play music or whatever it is that you do as an American — that there is a cost that other people have paid for us to be able to do those things and enjoy all the simple things.”

Miranda Lambert had been a sophomore in high school

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“I was a sophomore in high school,” Miranda Lambert told Taste of Country. “I was in the choir. And I remember even in my little bitty town of East Texas — in Lindale, Texas — there was kids leaving school because their loved ones had been injured or killed in 9/11, so it affected so many people and so many lives, and it’ll never be forgotten as long as I live. I’ll always remember where I was and that feeling.”

Keith Urban realized how precious and short life can be.

“It probably reiterated to me the importance of enjoying life while we do have it,” Keith Urban told CMT. “Because life is much, much shorter than we all think and can be taken from us in a blink of an eye. So, you know, you’ve gotta put food on the table. You’ve got to satisfy your career aspirations. But I think you have to keep it in perspective with also living life.”

Charlie Daniels realized how vulnerable the country was.

“It was one of the most confusing days of my life, and in the lives of all Americans,” Charlie Daniels told Taste of Country. Daniels passed away in July from a stroke at age 83. “It was a day the world changed, and we started to realize how very vulnerable we had allowed ourselves to become over the years, and how very foolish we had been by doing that.”