A host of country stars paid their personal and emotional tributes to the recently-departed Kenny Rogers on last night’s (8) CMT Giants: Kenny Rogers: A Benefit For MusiCares. The special not only saluted the country music hero but raised money for the MusiCares COVID-19 relief fund.
An impressive array of lovingly-performed covers from Rogers’ catalogue included a note-perfect rendition of ‘Islands In The Stream,’ his 1983 smash with Dolly Parton, by Lady Antebellum. Watch here as Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood sing the number in their respective homes, joined remotely by no fewer than five further band members:
No tribute to Rogers could take place without the participation of his close friend Parton. Dressed in white and framed by candles, she performed a moving solo acoustic version of ‘Sweet Music Man,’ accompanying herself on the guitar.
Other highlights of the show included Michael McDonald’s rendition of Rogers’ hit from his days with the First Edition, ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).’ From the same era, husband and wife duo Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires offered a pleasing, Americana-flavoured version of ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.’ A Rogers tour jacket from 1981 was on display as they played.
From Rogers’ collection of power ballads, Gavin DeGraw contributed ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland ‘Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer.’ Randy Houser handled another of his signature numbers, ‘The Gambler’ and Vince Gill played a song he wrote for Kenny, ‘The Rock Of Your Love.’
“When he walked onto a stage, he owned it”
“He was very commanding, no matter what setting you found him in,” said Gill, “but in a way that was always led by kindness and by grace. When he walked onto a stage, he owned it, and that’s what the greats do.” Another longtime friend, Lionel Richie, dedicated his song ‘Goodbye’ to Rogers. “We lived a lot of years together,” he said. “We lived a lot of life together, a lot of laughs. And I promise you, ladies and gentlemen, there will never be another gambler like Kenny Rogers.”
MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s non-profit organisation, works to safeguard the health and well-being of music industry people. The newly-established MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund is helping those in the music community most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
CMT executive producer Margaret Comeaux said: “Kenny Rogers transcended genres and generations with his musical versatility, legendary collaborations, and timeless appeal, and we’re honoured to pay tribute to his legacy. Particularly in these turbulent times, we’ll stop and take a moment to allow the memory of our dear friend Kenny to bring us together and inspire us to lend support to those in the music community who are most in need.”
Readers in the US can find out more, and donate to COVID-19 relief in Kenny Rogers’ name, by texting KENNYCARES to 41444 or visit musicares.org/KennyCares.