PHOTOS: Toby Keith Makes Triumphant Return To The Stage Amid Cancer Battle With Surprise Pop-Up Performances

Amidst his ongoing battle with stomach cancer, country superstar Toby Keith remains optimistic about his return to the road.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

July 3, 2023

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Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro

Toby Keith is back! The country superstar returned to the stage amid his stomach cancer battle for not just one, but two, surprise, pop-up performances in his home state of Oklahoma this weekend. 

The shows, which took place at his Hollywood Corners venue in Norman, Oklahoma, featured Keith performing alongside a full band and reportedly ran over two hours. 

A post to Toby Keith’s official social media accounts read, “Toby‘s first rehearsal turned into a 2 1/2 hour pop-up show. He sang all the hits plus the Bus Songs…Toby is back.” 

Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro
Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro

The second night’s show included a surprise appearance from Keith’s longtime songwriting pal, Scotty Emerick.

“It felt so right, Toby had to do it twice,” a second social media post confirmed. 

@kylerainermusic When your show at Hollywood Corners last night gets cancelled for the boss man himself, @Toby Keith, you make a date night out of it! Glad to see him back on stage…been too long! Welcome back TK! #tobykeith #hollywoodcorners #whosyourdaddy #bossman #howdoyoulikemenow #ilovethisbar #welcomeback #redsolocup #kylerainer #kylerainermusic ♬ original sound – KyleRainerMusic

Toby Keith’s return to the stage comes after the “Oklahoma Breakdown” singer gave a detailed update about his health and shared his hopes for returning to the stage in an interview with The Oklahoman

Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro
Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro

While backstage at the Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic pre-tournament gala on June 2 at the Riverwind Casino, Keith revealed that he was eager to get back on stage.

“I feel better; I’ve got more wind. And I’m thinking about bringing the band in and setting up, playing two or three days somewhere just to see if I can get through two hours,” Keith said at the time, adding, “And if I do, (I’ll) be out on the road this fall. All I got to do is see if I can get through two or three nights of work and get a little break in this chemo, and we’ll go back to work. I’m ready.”

These two shows mark Keith’s first official headlining performances since being forced to cancel all of his tour dates in June of 2022 due to his stomach cancer diagnosis.

Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro
Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick; Photo Courtesy Suzanne Cordeiro

While his touring plans still remain unknown, Keith shared an encouraging health update while chatting with The Oklahoman.

“I’m feeling pretty good. … I’m about another eight weeks from my last scan. So, I expect next time I look for that tumor to be even less — and I’ve only got one that’s shown up,” Keith explained. “Basically, everything is in a real positive trend. You never know with cancer, so you have to prepare.”

Despite feeling better, Keith is still battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. However, his tumor has shrunk by a third and his blood tests continue to improve with each new test.

The Oklahoma-based media outlet also reported that he is also undergoing “immunotherapy and working with a nutritionist.”

Toby Keith; Photo via Twitter
Toby Keith; Photo via Twitter

“They put oxygen in your blood. They give you high doses of vitamin C and good vitamins and nutrient bag you up to where you feel better. And you can start trying to heal your body,” Toby Keith, who will celebrate his 62nd birthday on July 8, added.

“Now, they’re trying to fight where the cancer backs up and says, ‘Oh, you’re fighting that tumor? We’re gonna remorph and turn into this kind of cancer.’ … So, while they (the cancer cells) are in the bullpen regrouping, we’re trying to kill ’em with something different,” he continued.

Throughout the past year, Toby Keith has made several surprise appearances at different establishments such as Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Eskimo Joe’s Sports Bar, The Noun Hotel and more. 

The country crooner also celebrated the Oklahoma University (OU) softball team’s National Championship win on Thursday, June 8, at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Oklahoma City.

At the event, the country superstar joined several OU softball players on stage at his restaurant to sing his 1999 hit, “How Do You Like Me Now?!” and the clip has since gone viral.

In addition, Toby Keith recently made an appearance at the 19th Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, which took place in early June. The two-day event, which included a golf tournament and dinner, raised a record $1.8 million in support of OK Kids Korral, the cost-free home for families of children battling cancer. The Friday night dinner was headlined by chart-topping country group Sawyer Brown. 750 guests attended the denim and rhinestones-themed soirée, which also included a record-setting auction.

Toby Keith, Pete Penner; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation
Toby Keith, Pete Penner; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation

Altogether, the Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic has raised nearly $18 million. The funding supports The Toby Keith Foundation, which helped construct OK Kids Korral in support of Oklahoma pediatric cancer patients. 

“Next year, it’ll be the 10th year for OK Kids Korral, 20th year of my foundation party,” Keith also told The Oklahoman at the event. “We’re gonna celebrate a 10 and a 20, and we’re gonna blow it out. It’s amazing how much support we get. But it takes that kind of support to handle 300 families a year.”

Toby Keith is filled with optimism as he looks forward to hitting the road again this fall, although there have been no official announcements made yet. Stay updated by visiting his official website for the latest news and updates.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.