Country music is famous for its melancholic tone, and its songs can turn its most stone-hearted fans into crying wrecks. However, it wasn’t the music that made singer Miranda Lambert tear up at a recent gig. For that, she has one fan and his heartfelt message to thank.
With two Grammys and multiple Country Music Association awards under her belt, Miranda Lambert is undoubtedly country music’s hottest talent. Indeed, the fact that five of her albums have hit platinum shows just how much her music resonates with audiences.
On August 19, 2016, then, thousands of eager fans gathered at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford, Connecticut, to see the star perform. The mood in the air was jubilant, and anticipation hit fever pitch as she launched into her number one hit, “The House That Built Me.”
But while Lambert had the audience in the palm of her hand, the singer herself seemed distracted. After yelling “Really?” and raising her arms in disbelief, it became clear that something was on her mind.
And as Lambert walked closer towards the audience, it became obvious that something was actually someone. One fan had managed to grab her attention. And, as the tears welled in her eyes, he had succeeded in hitting a nerve.
Fans were used to seeing Lambert break down on stage; her current tour had already proved a particularly emotional experience for her. In fact, just one month previously the star was barely able to finish a rendition of her hit “Over You” during a concert in Tinley Park, Illinois.
By all means, though, Lambert had special reason to be upset. In addition to its downbeat tone, the song was co-penned with her ex-husband Blake Shelton. The pair called time on their four-year marriage in 2015 – and playing it no doubt brought up some difficult memories.
However, it was tears of joy – not sadness – that came to her eyes on this particular evening. And after picking a fan’s sign from the audience, she turned it over to reveal a truly inspirational message to the crowd.
On it was emblazoned a message of hope and thanks from Jeff Tudisca – a veteran who had served in the U.S. Army. “Three combat tours. Your voice was the last thing I listened to every night! Thank you!!!” it said.
With her cheeks wet from tears and while clearly overcome with emotion, Lambert stopped the music to gain her composure. But as the audience cheered on, the singer wiped her eyes clean and went back to the microphone, emboldened by the fact that she’d made a difference to someone’s life.
Indeed, Tudisca didn’t expect such a reaction when he set foot in the theater that night. The veteran was first introduced to Lambert’s music during his 2006 deployment in Afghanistan, and it soon became a safe haven from the horrors around him.
Although unfamiliar with the singer’s music beforehand, Tudisca became hooked after his family sent him a few songs in a care package. And before long, the soldier had added all her tunes to a personal MP3 player and was then able to take her voice with him everywhere as a release from his surroundings.
“Through my three tours, you name it, we saw it,” he told The Country Scene. But he also explained, “It didn’t matter whatever happened out there. I would always crawl into wherever it was I was sleeping and listen to her voice.”
“I remember days that were so bad that your heart ache just for a hint of better things to come,” Tudisca continued. “[But] when she sang and I closed my eyes, I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t alone – I went home. That’s by far the best gift anyone can give you.”
Of course, hearing the effect she had on this serviceman meant a lot to Lambert, who has voiced her support for men and women in the military throughout her career. In 2014, for example, she took part in a special concert alongside stars like Toby Keith and Merle Haggard to honor those in the armed forces.
In addition, the star’s charity MuttNation was formed with the aim of helping soldiers returning from active combat. And besides rehoming and retraining unwanted pooches, the charity also provides wounded veterans with pets as a form of therapy to help with the healing process.
As heartwarming as Lambert and Tudisca’s story is, though, their saga didn’t end with their encounter at the Connecticut concert. In fact, radio DJ Cory Myers was so moved by the pair’s interaction that she arranged a further meeting between them later that month.
Yet while he called the face-to-face “a dream come true,” Tudisca admitted on Myers’ Broadway’s Electric Barnyard show that he had a few reservations. “The only thing I ever wanted to say to her, I said the other night,” he added. “So now I gotta figure out something else.”
Nonetheless, any nerves Tudisca had soon cleared up when he and Lambert met at Massachusetts’ Gillette Stadium. On top of them chatting about their parents and the story’s reaction online, the ex-soldier got another chance to tell the singer how much her music meant to him.
“It rips your heart out when you have something you want to tell someone, but you just can’t,” he told The Country Scene. “That is why I told Miranda what she did for me. Life doesn’t wait around for anything. I may never have had that chance again.”