On March 20, 2020, country music lost one of its greatest artists…Kenny Rogers. He passed away at the age of 81 due to natural causes.
Since Rogers passed late in the evening, his family announced his passing in the middle of the night. Because of this, many of his fellow artists were already in bed, and didn’t hear the sad news until they woke up in the morning.
Tributes to Rogers came pouring in as news of his passing spread throughout the country music community. Some artists sat down and filmed themselves covering Rogers’ songs, finding comfort in his music.
That same evening (March 21, 2020), Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, and Marty Stuart were scheduled to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Opry has been hosting its shows without an in-house audience, but continues broadcasts on radio, TV, and social media.
During their Opry performance, the trio of Gill, Paisley, and Stuart paused to honor Rogers with his song “Sweet Music Man.” Gill took the lead, and was visibly emotional as he sang.
Gill’s performance struck a chord with country fans around the world, as it captured the same feelings of grief they were experiencing over Rogers’ death. Plus, it was simply a stunning performance of one of Rogers’ most meaningful songs.
To pay further tribute to Rogers, CMT put together a special in his memory called CMT Giants: Kenny Rogers. Artists such as Dolly Parton, Lady A, and Rascal Flatts sent in home videos of themselves singing Rogers’ songs.
In addition to serving as a tribute to Rogers, the special was also a fundraiser for MusiCares. For those who don’t know, MusiCares is under the umbrella of the Recording Academy, and provides aid to artists and music industry personnel during times of need.
With many in the music world being out of work due to the pandemic, MusiCares established a special fund to provide aid to those people during this trying time. It’s a fund that Rogers’ team named as a place fans could donate to in his honor
After his emotional Opry tribute, it makes sense why Gill chose participate in the CMT Giants special to help raise funds for MusiCares and honor Rogers. Instead of singing “Sweet Music Man” like he did at the Opry, Gill remembered Rogers through a performance of his gospel song “The Rock of Your Love.”
“The Rock of Your Love” was featured on Rogers’ 2011 album The Love of God. It later appeared on the deluxe edition of the album, which was released in 2019.
It’s a song Gill is quite familiar with, since he’s actually the person who wrote it. Knowing that bit of information suddenly makes his tribute performance on the CMT Giants special all the more meaningful.
Tune in to the clip below to watch Gill sing “The Rock of Your Love” in Rogers’ memory.