Last night (4/9), stars came together virtually to honor the legendary Kenny Rogers, who passed away on March 20 at the age of 81. Hosted by actress-singer Rita Wilson, CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers: A Benefit For MusiCares featured performances by Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts and more.
During the telecast, fans were invited to donate to the MusiCares COVID-19 relief fund, while hearing artists perform Rogers’ timeless hits from their own homes. Half of the donations raised will benefit struggling members of the Nashville music community who are currently out of work.
Here are Top Five Highlights from the show:
1) Surrounded by candles, Dolly Parton tugged on viewers’ heartstrings, as she acoustically performed Rogers’ lesser known tune, “Sweet Music Man.”
Parton, a longtime friend of Rogers, gave the introduction, “My favorite Kenny song is one that most people don’t realize that Kenny wrote. It was not as big a hit as most of his [songs], but it’s a song that I love to sing. I sit around sometimes and sing it on my own.”
2) Vince Gill chose to perform a song he co-wrote with Leslie Satcher and Al Anderson, which Rogers had previously cut.
Titled “Rock Of Your Love,” Gill’s pristine vocals shined on the song’s poignant lyrics, “Something steady sure feels good / I always knew somehow it would / I’ve traded chains for the wings of a dove / Standin’ on the rock of your love.”
3) Country group Rascal Flatts came together for the Rogers’ classic, “Through The Years.”
Flatts’ lead singer Gary LeVox explained their song choice, by saying, “He [Rogers] was such an amazing storyteller … [The song] is probably the most perfect love song that’s ever been written. That was one that really just told the truth.” The trio then flawlessly collaborated together in a virtual performance of the feel-good track.
Scott stated, “I have heard so many stories from people like my mom [Linda Davis] and other artists who have said over and over again of when they toured with Kenny, he allowed them to use pretty much every single square inch of his stage.” She continued, “That generosity is one of my favorite things about him. We felt that directly whenever we opened up for Kenny.”
5) Pop singer Lionel Richie gave the ultimate farewell, as he spoke of his close friendship with Rogers.
Richie, who wrote Rogers’ massive hit, “Lady,” gave the story behind one of the last tunes Rogers recorded. Written by Richie, the aptly titled song “Goodbye” was cut by Rogers over 10 years ago.
“When I wrote a song called ‘Hello,’ I thought, ‘well, there should be a song called ‘Goodbye’ somewhere in all of this,” Richie simply stated. “So, when I found myself losing a lot of my friends, I thought I would record a song called ‘Goodbye.’”
The show ended with Rogers singing the tune, as video clips and photos of the singer played in the background.
The special will re-air on MTV Live on April 10 at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. CST. CMT will also re-air the program on April 11 at 11:00 a.m. CST and on CMT Music on April 12 at 7:00 p.m. CST.
Fans can continue to donate by visiting musicares.org/kennyrogers or texting KENNYCARES to 41444.