Now THIS is how you open a show.
The CMA Awards are coming up on November 9th and over the years we’ve seen so many legendary performances, moments, and honors that have gone far in defining the genre, many of them involving the great Alan Jackson.
There’s the iconic rendition of “When The World Stopped Turning” right after 9/11, him walking out while Beyoncé was performing, protesting the treatment of George Jones, and his and George Strait’s middle finger to Country Radio, just to name a few.
The awards this year will once again be dominated by the Georgia native because Alan is being given the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement award, an honor that is undoubtedly deserved, if not overdue.
He will be just 8th recipient of the award which was created in 2012 and named after the great Willie Nelson, who is still crushing it at 89 years old.
That got me thinking of the 2016 CMAs, which celebrated both the 50th anniversary of the show itself and the honoring of Dolly Parton with the 4th Lifetime Achievement award.
There were so many great moments during that show, however, the opening performance was the one for the history books.
Executive producer Robert Deaton made the decision that the focus would be on celebrating the rich history of the genre rather than attempting to push new singles, and that shift was very evident in the opening performance, which featured 12 of the genre’s most iconic and defining songs.
Vince Gill and Ben Haggard, youngest son of the great Merle, kicked it off with “Mama Tried”. Brad Paisley and Roy Clark came next with the Buck Owen’s classic “Tiger By The Tail” and Carrie Underwood followed with Tammy Wynette’s absolutely iconic anthem “Stand By Your Man”.
This is where the performance shifted from modern stars doing covers to legends playing their own.
Charley Pride came out with “Kiss An Angel Good Morning”, then Alabama with “Mountain Music”, Charlie Daniels with “Devil Went Down To Georgia”, Reba with “Fancy”, Dwight Yoakam with “Guitars, Cadillacs”, Clint Black with “Killin’ Time”, Ricky Skaggs with “Country Boy”, and Alan Jackson with “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” before the entire performing crew joined together to honor Randy Travis with “Forever and Ever, Amen”.
This was right after his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and about three years after his debilitating stroke, but he was still able to croon out that iconic last “Amen” at the end, which sent the crowd wild.
I mean, come on, talk about a legendary lineup of performers, all sharing the stage together, to honor the genre they all love and that had done so much for them and their fans.
That’s really what these shows should be about, not the fluffy pile of blah we’ve been force fed recently.
Hats off to everyone that participated in this incredible opener. It’ll probably never be matched, especially since losing Charley Pride and Charlie Daniels, along with the worsening health conditions of Alan Jackson and Randy Travis.
We need to enjoy these legends while we still have them. This upcoming ceremony will be worth watching if for no other reason than to support Alan Jackson.
We’ll see you in a week.