Toby Keith Makes Surprise Performance, His First Following Cancer Diagnosis

Toby Keith recently made a surprise performance, marking his first time playing to a crowd since his cancer diagnosis. Billboard reports that, on Friday, the country music superstar sang a few songs at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse in Lexington, Kentucky. Keith was visiting the city for the 2022 Breeder's World Cup Championship event, which was held at Keeneland Race Course.

In a Facebook post over the weekend, Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment CEO Britney Ruby Miller shared video of Keith on the venue's stage. "Toby Keith is on the mend!!" she exclaimed, as reported by the Lexington Herald Leader. "After a year of fighting stomach cancer, he chose Jeff Ruby's Lexington stage to sing with Jeff Ruby. His first time singing in over a year! ...Toby sang for an hour." In a separate Twitter post, Jeff Ruby shared a photo of himself and Keith, writing, "Grateful for my good friend [Toby Keith]! Rocking our Lexington stage after a year of kicking cancer's a—!"

The big performance comes just a few months after Keith revealed his cancer diagnosis. "Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer," Keith wrote in a June tweet. "I've spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax." The "Beer for my Horses" singer added, "I am looking forward to spending time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can't wait."

His big return to the stage has been praised by fans everywhere, with one fan tweeting, "Toby you are looking so good! I'm so glad you are singing again you sound as good as ever. Praying for you and can't wait to see you in concert again." Someone else added, "Good to see Toby his voice is still as sweet as ever. Love that guy for who he is. Keep your chin up we're with ya all the way."

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Keith initially had some concerts scheduled for the summer and fall of 2022, but those were postponed, per a rep who spoke with Billboard. The outlet also reported that, on Tuesday, the performing rights organization BMI is set to honor Keith's many songwriting credits by awarding him with the 2022 BMI Icon honor. This comes one year after the singer was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, honored with the Academy of Country Music's Merle Haggard spirit award, and was also honored with the National Medal of Arts.