Which Country Music Star Died Today?

Toby Keith, best known for his patriotic country music style and pro-American attitude, passed away of stomach cancer Monday evening, according to a family statement released on his behalf. He was 62.

Keith was a tireless supporter of military services and participated in eleven USO tours to entertain troops overseas. Additionally, he starred in two movies and raised millions for charity during his career.

Toby Keith

Born Toby Keith Covel on July 8, 1961 in Clinton, Oklahoma, Keith spent several years as a derrick hand and semi-professional American football player before becoming a country music star. Influenced by musicians at his grandmother’s supper club in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Soon after graduating high school he started touring bar circuit with The Easy Money Band before recording his 1993 debut album ‘Gene Autry and Roy Rogers Tribute Album’ which yielded his first No.1 hit – with subsequent albums such as Blue Moon and Unleashed becoming successful hits as well.

Keith announced in June 2022 that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and began chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery treatment to address it. According to The Oklahoman newspaper, Keith reported his tumor had shrunk by 33% while still continuing his performance and recording activities; in fact, he performed three sold-out shows in Las Vegas last December, visibly thinner yet with good voice quality.

Keith earned 32 number-one singles and sold over 40 million records worldwide, all while being involved with charity work and raising millions for various organizations throughout his career. In 2004, he established Ally’s House – a non-profit dedicated to helping Oklahoma children diagnosed with cancer with medical bills and short-term housing – while contributing his time and money towards St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation and other charities.

Keith was a fiercely patriotic American who displayed it openly. He supported our military by visiting overseas bases and singing for troops during USO tours, often wading into political controversy by offering unorthodox opinions that sometimes alienated fans; for instance, one of Keith’s 2002 songs entitled “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” contained this quote:

Margo Smith

Margo Smith, known for her country hits from the 1970s and ’80s, passed away at age 84 due to pneumonia complications. Friends and family are asking for prayers in her memory.

She earned fame as The Tennessee Yodeler by combining traditional country with gospel influences, yodling, and performing on television shows to demonstrate this talent. During this period she released several albums; 1979’s A Woman proved particularly popular. Later regretting making stylistic changes, she left the industry.

In the 1990s, she returned to her gospel roots by joining with daughter Holly to record Christian country music as Margo Smith and Holly duo. Together they enjoyed several hits before being honored as Vocal Duo of the Year by Christian Country Music Association. Smith continued with music until retirement to Florida where she focused her teaching efforts solely on helping others yodel.

Smith was not only known for her musical career, but was also an accomplished academic and author. She earned her Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of Virginia and became an Honorary Fellow there, served as director of Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, taught courses on Aboriginal art at U.Va, co-edited Art From the Land: Dialogues with Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art as well as being president of American Anthropological Association in 1999. Smith leaves behind husband Richard Cammeron and two daughters as well as her family; Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home is handling all arrangements for Smith’s funeral arrangements.

Jo-El Sonnier

Jo-El Sonnier was just 77 when he died after suffering a heart attack while performing at Llano Country Opry on Saturday evening in Texas. Following receiving a standing ovation following his show and performing “Jambalaya”, when asked for an encore encore performance he agreed but mentioned needing rest before signing autographs before finally going backstage to sign them himself and later died at a nearby hospital according to Dillon Weldon, promoter at Llano Country Opry venue.

Sonnier was born in Rayne, Louisiana and began playing his brother’s accordion when he was three years old. By age ten he began recording his own songs and soon after became a country music sensation, eventually signing to Mercury Records and having several hits including “No More One More Time” and a cover of Richard Thompson’s song “Tear Stained Letter.” Following this success in country music he returned to his roots by producing albums featuring traditional country music.

In 2015, he won a Grammy award for his album “The Legacy”. Additionally, he was honored with induction into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and nominated for multiple other honors.

Through his career, Sonnier also made appearances in numerous movies and television shows. He is survived by his wife Bobbye.

Sonnier was passionate about his music and loved sharing it with his fans. He was constantly seeking new ways to improve his show and keep audiences coming back for more, while spending quality time with family and friends he was an incredible source of inspiration – someone we will all miss greatly.

Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie was raised in a musical family. Both his father and uncle played guitar and banjo respectively, and extended-family back-porch picking sessions were regular family affairs. At age 13, Diffie began performing with his aunt’s country band in Tulsa, Oklahoma. By 1990, Love on the Rocks had become his debut chart hit; ultimately Diffie would go on to achieve five No.1 hits as well as twelve additional top ten placements on country charts over his career.

Diffie, an Iron Foundry worker by day and country music’s traditions by night, signed to Epic Records in 1989 and issued several solid albums that never propelled him into superstar status despite having an amazing vocal range that resonated well with audiences – his ballads such as Home and I’m A Regular Joe were particularly poignant examples of this. Additionally, during the 90s party period he made himself notable through hit singles like Startin’ Over Blues and Honky Tonk Attitude that provided much-needed hits from his performances.

Early 2000s found him performing on numerous package tours alongside acts like Sammy Kershaw and Aaron Tippin. Additionally, he continued releasing solo albums throughout the 2000s and 2010s, often recording earlier crowd-pleasers to more contemporary formats; one example would be Homecoming (2010) which showcased Appalachian-influenced pickers and harmony singers to create something quite distinctive but nonetheless quite effective.

Diffie was known for his versatility throughout his career, often appearing on special and tribute recordings as a guest artist. Notably he co-wrote Not Too Much to Ask with Mary Chapin Carpenter in 1992 and earned himself a Grammy nomination with Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss and Dwight Yoakam among many other guests on Marty Stuart’s Same Old Train all-star recording in 1998 – earning another nomination and making headlines when performing for one of its stars!

Diffie spent his later years writing and producing, while hosting a morning show in Nashville. He regularly performed at Grand Ole Opry events and became an honoree of the Country Music Hall of Fame.