Lifestyle & Human Interest

Country Music Stars, Including Dolly Parton, Pay Tribute to Kenny Rogers in CMT Special


On Wednesday night, a one-of-a-kind event was held for a one-of-a-kind man. For both a tribute and charity fundraiser, country music stars donated their time and talents to remembering the iconic Kenny Rogers.

“A very special night is ahead…thanks to CMT and all of these incredible artists!” the Kenny Rogers Facebook page shared on Wednesday. “We invite you to join us for the premiere of #CMTGiants: Kenny Rogers – A Benefit for MusiCares TONIGHT – 8/7c on CMT. If you’re interested in donating to the MusiCares COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund, visit or text KENNYCARES to 41444.”

The artists and musicians “took the stage” from the comfort of their own homes, some perched in their living rooms and others setting the scene a little more dramatically, most of them choosing a different Kenny Rogers song and sharing some words about him.

“Kenny Rogers was both larger than life and down to earth, a man who always went out of his way to help people — people who needed it,” Rita Wilson, who hosted the program, said, according to USA Today.

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“Islands in the Stream” was picked up by Lady Antebellum.

“It opened up a giant audience to the country music genre,” Charles Kelley said of the song.

“The tone and texture really lets the listener feel like he’s lived some life,” Dave Haywood added of Rogers’ voice, adding that those qualities tell “a story.”

“I think that’s what connects with so many people,” Haywood said.

Jennifer Nettles selected “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer,” and made sure to blow a kiss heavenward as the last notes faded away.

“The guy had crossover hits but he was always one of ours,” Blake Shelton said. “He was a country artist … he was just one of the most famous people on the planet.”

Vince Gill wrote a song for Rogers called “The Rock of Your Love,” and spoke of Rogers’ confident presence.

“He was very commanding, no matter what setting you found him in but in a way that was always led by kindness and by grace,” Gill said of Rogers. “When he walked onto a stage, he owned it, and that’s what the greats do.”

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“We lived a lot of years together,” Lionel Richie 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.”

And of course, there was Dolly Parton, who chose “Sweet Music Man” as her contribution. She admitted “sometimes I sit around and sing it on my own.”

“We love you, Dolly Parton, and can’t thank you enough for this beautiful tribute,” the Kenny Rogers team posted.

“Kenny always knew how fortunate he was to have had some incredible collaborations and good times with you over the years, and thought so highly of you. We (members of Kenny’s team) also thoroughly enjoyed working with you over the years. We were honored you would be a part of #CMTGiants: Kenny Rogers last night for the ‘Sweet Music Man.’ Love and continued best wishes from all of us!”

Donations went to a relief effort for artists and musicians that is still accepting charitable gifts.

“Some of you have asked where donations can be made in Kenny’s name,” his Facebook page posted on March 22.

“We suggest the COVID-19 Relief Fund, established by Recording Academy / GRAMMYs and its affiliated charitable foundation MusiCares, to help music creators and professionals without work during the COVID-19 pandemic. To donate, text KENNYCARES to 41444 or visit: // It’s a very simple process that allows you to designate a donation ‘in honor of’ Kenny Rogers. MusiCares will keep track of the donations given in Kenny’s honor.”

“Knowing Kenny was a lifelong supporter of musicians, crew members, and music personnel, we are confident he would appreciate and encourage these efforts.”

According to the CMT Facebook page, an encore presentation of the show was scheduled for Thursday night and a re-airing for Saturday.

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