“Grand Ole Opry, you look good tonight. Pink is most definitely your color.” Carrie Underwood brought the 10th annual Opry Goes Pink full circle on Friday, Oct. 26, when she flipped the switch to turn the Grand Ole Opry pink for the event that brings the Opry and Susan G. Komen Foundation together to honor breast cancer survivors and raise awareness. The Opry donated $5 from each ticket sold to the foundation.
Underwood had the honor of flipping the switch at the inaugural Opry Goes Pink in 2009 and served as the evening’s headlining act, performing three of her most powerful numbers “Love Wins,” “Wasted” and “Something in the Water.”
But the night was about more than great music and the hallowed stage it was performed on. It was a celebration of the courage and strength of everyone living with and affected by cancer. No one understands this more than Anita Cochran, a singer-songwriter and producer who achieved a No. 1 a hit in 1998 with her duet with Steve Wariner, “What If I Said.” Cochran was diagnosed with breast caner in late 2017 and finished her last round of chemotherapy in September of 2018. She made headlines earlier this year when she released her song “Fight Like a Girl,” inspired by her battle with cancer. She had the Opry crowd faithfully in her corner as she performed the empowering song, sharing that all of its proceeds go toward cancer research. “To all the fighters and survivors out there, keep fighting like a girl,” she proclaimed.
Another breast cancer survivor who stood in solidarity with her fellow fighters was Rita Wilson, who made her Opry debut days prior. “I am a breast cancer survivor and thriver,” she stated confidently before launching into a personal and poignant performance of her song “Tear by Tear,” a title inspired by a term from her Greek heritage meaning “catharsis,” relating that to how often during cancer treatment you just need to “cry it out.” This sentiment continued as Fred LaBour, a member of western music group Riders in the Sky, tearfully shared a speech he wrote honoring his wife Roberta, who passed away from breast cancer nine months ago to the day. His heartfelt words sent an emotional wave over the packed house as he encouraged patrons to donate to cancer-related charities.
America’s Got Talent Season 12 contestant and ovarian cancer survivor Karen Mills turned her cancer battle into a comedy routine, keeping the audience laughing with jokes about how cancer taught her not to order a wig from the internet and comparing chemo to a torture tactic. She ended her set with a motivating poem, driving home the meaning of the event with the closing line: “I believe there will come a day when we’ll all think, ‘breast cancer got whipped by the women in pink,’” she declared, as the audience supported this notion with enduring applause.
Underwood brought the evening to a riveting close, conveying how it was a “very special” show dedicated to “celebrating survival and fighting.” “Every day is a gift for sure,” she said humbly. She finished her set with “Wasted” and “Something in the Water,” the latter of which sent her powerhouse vocals soaring into the rafters of the historical landmark and ended in a standing ovation. The evening was rounded out by performances from Ronnie Milsap, Tegan Marie and the debut of Colbie Caillat’s new singer-songwriter super group Gone West.
A representative from Susan G. Komen relayed the organization’s goal of reducing breast cancer deaths 50 percent by 2026. With all the money raised and love expressed through Opry Goes Pink, it’s quite possible they’ll achieve this ambitious goal.