Today’s Deep From the Heart benefit at Reed Arena is the rare large-scale concert where the performers play second fiddle, thanks to the presence of five former presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
But the event, which also marks the 20th anniversary of George H.W. Bush’s Presidential Library Center at Texas A&M, does have a significant musical lineup. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the Bush family, says of the performers: “Our team reached out through friends in the entertainment world to pull together a first-class show that is short on speeches but nevertheless celebrates the American spirit and especially those who have joined to help respond to this catastrophic hurricane season.”
The bill is led by Alabama, one of the most successful acts in country music history, which has dozens of No. 1 hits to choose from for its performance. Gospel star Yolanda Adams is a four-time Grammy winner. Soul legend Sam Moore is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Gatlins and emcee Lee Greenwood are longtime country veterans. Cassadee Pope, a winner of the popular music talent show The Voice, and country singer Stephanie Quayle will perform.
Aggie history plays a part with performances by A&M graduates Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. The two friends, who first met in their college days on the front porch of the house Keen rented from Jack Boyett, have played several times together on campus over the years. Their first pairing in February 2000 was for the emotional Bonfire Benefit Concert, two and a half months after the 1999 Bonfire collapse that killed 12 Aggies and injured 27 others. Keen and Lovett played an acoustic concert at Rudder Auditorium in February 2013. And they returned a few months later for a First Yell concert at Kyle Field, the night before A&M’s matchup with Alabama.
Proceeds from today’s event will benefit One America Appeal for Hurricane Relief.