Carrie Underwood speaks at the 46th Annual Country Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 1, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. / Wade Payne/AP
Though they gathered in a Nashville auditorium, far from the storm-ravaged East Coast, country music stars sent a shout-out Thursday night to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Country music's biggest night kicked off with an appeal by co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood for viewers to donate to the Red Cross during the three-hour Country Music Association awards ceremony.
"Country music has always lifted people up in tough times, and we hope to do that tonight,"' said Underwood.
The 2012 CMA ceremony was being held just three days after Sandy killed dozens and caused billions in damage as it stormed across the northeastern U.S.
Pop and rock musicians, including New Jersey rockers Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi and Long Island's singer/songwriter Billy Joel, are taking part in a Sandy telethon Friday on NBC.