On Sunday night (April 5), country’s biggest names gathered — virtually, of course — to celebrate the power of music with ACM Presents: Our Country. The two-hour-long event replaced the annual ACM Awards, which were originally scheduled for Sunday night in Las Vegas, though, due to the coronavirus, have been postponed to September.
Following performances by Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani and many more, a trio of superstars closed out the show with a powerful tribute to the late Kenny Rogers, who died of natural causes on March 20 at age 81.
“Every artist was a friend and a fan” of Rogers’, said host Gayle King. Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker kicked off the salute to Rogers by first performing the 1977 track “Lucille” from the album Kenny Rogers, followed by “The Gambler.” The pair then tossed it to Luke Bryan, who wrapped with Rogers’ 1979 track “Coward of the County” off Kenny. “Thank you so much for all your musical contributions,” said Bryan. “We love you, buddy.”
King then reappeared to let viewers know that it would be Rogers’ close friend and collaborator, Lionel Richie, who would have the last word. Before airing old footage of the two performing “Lady” — which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980 — Richie shared a bit of the history behind his and Rogers’ friendship.
“What started out to be a great collaboration between two guys ended up giving me a surprise — not only did we have a hit record, but I found one of the greatest friends I ever had in my whole life. We lived so much life together. I want to say to all his fans, he enjoyed the ride.”
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