Keith Urban and Vince Gill hosted the 6th annual All for the Hall, a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame, this week at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. With the recent passing of legend Merle Haggard, the event became a tribute to Haggard with many of the artists performing his songs.
Urban helped get the crowd on their feet with performances of his own hits “Somewhere in my Car” and “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.”
It was also co-host Vince Gill’s birthday, but true to his nature, he didn’t take the spotlight that he easily deserves. Each artist had a two-song set and Gill used the opportunity to pay tribute to Haggard with his renditions of “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” and “Fightin Side of Me.”
Guest artists throughout the night ranged from the elegant and classic Emmylou Harris to contemporary high-energy acts Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan. Newcomer Chris Janson brought one of the highest energy performances of the night with his hit “Buy Me a Boat.”
Keith Urban even commented that Janson was the “entertainer of the year right there!”
Maddie and Tae, Tracy Lawrence, Marren Morris, Jason Isbell, and Peter Frampton all performed as well, with a mixture of original songs and covers of both country and rock classics.
One of the surprising moments of the show was when Sam Hunt performed the Haggard hit “The Way I Am.” Known for his R&B-infused style, Hunt masterfully scaled back his performance to a reverent, traditional country sound.
All of the artists returned to the stage at the end of the night for a final tribute to Haggard with a performance of the classic hit “Mama Tried.”
A large portion of the proceeds from the event go toward music education programs, which was highlighted when students from McGavock High School took the stage to perform an original song they had written through the Words & Music program. This year’s event raised more than $750,000, bringing the grand total of money raised for the Country Music Hall of Fame since the event’s inception to $3.5 million.