The rich and varied musical legacy of Kris Kristofferson was on full display Wednesday night at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Many artists from different eras gathered together for a special show titled The Life & Songs of Kris Kristofferson.
According to creator and executive producer Keith Wortman of Blackbird Presents, the show had been in the planning stages for years, but the subject himself was somewhat resistant. “We’ve spent six years of hammering away at the guy, but he would just say, ‘No. Why me?’ Finally, he relented a few months ago, and as soon as he did, we pounced on it.” With many of his fellow legends — and several of the hottest names in the business present — there were many highlights. Here are our top five…
Jennifer Nettles, “Worth Fighting For”
The highlight of the evening didn’t come from one of his biggest hits as a songwriter. On this track — originally recorded on his 1995 album A Moment Of Forever, Nettles was in her element — garnering the first standing ovation of the night. The performance was an excellent marriage of singer and lyrics, giving Nettles a chance to give a performance that brought to mind the swagger and confidence of Janis Joplin. A big statement, but trust us, you had to be there!
Reba McEntire, “Me and Bobby McGee”
When McEntire took to the stage to perform the iconic composition made famous by Joplin, the vocalist simply took all 15,000 people in attendance to class. A truly classic moment with one of Nashville’s all-time greatest singers performing one of the cities’ most-revered songs.
Darius Rucker, “Under The Gun”
A straight up war protest song, Rucker embraced the lyrics and the tempo of this composition — also from A Moment Of Forever (though it was originally recorded on the 1984 soundtrack of Songwriter), and earned one of the biggest responses of the night. Of course, given Rucker’s background from his Hootie days, it should come as no surprise that the singer can rock with the best of them.
Lady Antebellum, “Help Me Make It Through The Night”
If there was any continued discussion if there was still going to be a Lady A, the award-winning trio soundly put those fears to rest last night. Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott really seemed to pour themselves into the sensual lyrics of the song, with Scott’s dreamy and innocent voice really coming alive during their performance. Enjoy their solo work, but the band is here to stay.
Buddy Miller, “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends”
He’s one of the Americana format’s finest songwriters and producers, a much loved SiriusXM radio personality, and of course, the musical director for ABC’s Nashville. But, in case you didn’t know…Miller is also one of the best damn country singers in Music City, as evidenced on his passionate run through this Kristofferson gem taken to the top of the Billboard Country Singles chart in the fall of 1974. If you’re not familiar with his works as a vocalist, do yourself a favor and check him out. You won’t be sorry!
Proceeds from a range of charity initiatives will benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, the official charity partner of the show.