Keith Urban, Vince Gill, And More Unite To Help Raise Over $900,000 For Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum
All For The Hall featured performances by Urban, Gill, HARDY, Kelsea Ballerini, Mickey Guyton, Trisha Yearwood, and more.
Vince Gill and Keith Urban; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Keith Urban, Vince Gill, and their A-list friends joined forces to support the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum during the 8th All for the Hall benefit concert on Tuesday (Dec. 5). This year’s theme was “The Song Remembers When,” a nod to Trisha Yearwood’s hit song and a chance for participants to perform a song that defines a memorable moment in their lives. Held at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, performers included Kelsea Ballerini, Brooks & Dunn, Old Dominion, HARDY, Mickey Guyton, ERNEST, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Brenda Lee, The War and Treaty, and Riley Green.
The evening also put a spotlight on the museum’s education program, Words & Music, which pairs a professional songwriter with students to help them learn how to write song lyrics while developing key skills in language arts. Stewarts Creek High School 12th grade student Abigail Sowards performed her original song “These Moments,” alongside her professional songwriter collaborator Paulina Jayne and accompanied by fellow students John Dechira and David Guydon. Proceeds from All for the Hall benefit the museum’s educational initiatives, which serve more than 130,000 people each year. During the show, Urban announced that this year’s event raised more than $900,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
To kick off the night, Urban strolled on stage and belted the intro to “Wild Hearts,” his passionate call for fellow dreamers to follow their hearts. After performing his own hits, Urban shared how “The Dukes of Hazzard” theme song, written by Waylon Jennings, impacted his life. “I kinda got my American indoctrination from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’,” the Australia native chuckled. He even performed the nostalgic tune on Jennings’ own guitar.
Urban also explained why he chose “The Song Remembers When” as the theme for this year’s event. “A lot of us artists, we hear stories from you guys at meet and greets in various places where you tell us stories about how our songs have affected you and what memories you may have from some of our songs. But I think sometimes you forget that we have the same kind of feelings about other people’s songs and I thought it’d be nice tonight to hear some of those stories from these artists, songs that conjure up a memory, takes ’em back to a certain time.”
Sporting a t-shirt from Robert’s Western World, a historic honky tonk just across the street from the arena, the four-time Grammy Award winner co-hosted the evening alongside Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill. In addition to his iconic solo career, Gill has also been a member of The Eagles for the past seven years. Joe Walsh was an early influence for Gill, who says that Walsh “might be America’s most important rock and roll guitar player in history.” Gill performed an electric version of “Rocky Mountain Way” as a tribute. “When I was about a 13 to 14-year-old kid in my room in Oklahoma trying to learn how to play the guitar, this song right here was one of the first songs I ever learned.” Gill traded guitar licks with Urban, putting their astonishing skills on full display to the delight of guitar aficionados.
One of the standout moments of the night was when husband and wife duo The War and Treaty stunned the crowd with a soul-stirring rendition of “O Holy Night.” The chill-inducing performance brought the audience to their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation among a sea of cell phone lights illuminating the arena.
Surprise guest, Country Music Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee, delighted the crowd with her joyful performance of the holiday classic “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” which just reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Songs chart for the first time this week, 65 years after its release in 1958. Urban changed into a red sweater and Santa hat for the Christmas tune, while Gill and the rest of the band were draped in colorful lights and other festive attire for the occasion.
Before performing the evening’s namesake song, Trisha Yearwood spoke about why the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum means so much to her. “The Hall of Fame is where all of our stories are told forever. And artists like Brenda Lee who came up here and did ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,’ she’s our history. She is to be revered and remembered. If you came here tonight and you’ve never heard of Brenda Lee, I don’t know where you live, but also go home and look her up. What this woman has done in her career is astonishing. She’s a true legend and hero. So that’s what this is all about, preserving those stories.”
Patty Loveless, who became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame this year, graced the stage with her signature bluegrass-tinged sound, performing “Nothin’ But the Wheel,” which she described as “one of the most well-written songs that I ever recorded.” Co-host Urban was visibly enamored with Loveless’ performance, grinning from ear to ear as he accompanied her on guitar.
The evening’s performers also included the next generation of stars, including Mickey Guyton, who paid tribute to Loveless with a performance of “Blame It On Your Heart.” Guyton recalled her first introduction to country music at a Texas Rangers game and how it impacted her. “I will never forget, they said, ‘Please rise as 10-year-old LeAnn Rimes sings the national anthem,’ and I’ll never forget it. She had on the denim jacket with the American flag on the back, and she sounded like a grown woman. And it changed my life. And from there, I started listening to Faith Hill, Martina McBride, where my grandma loved Dolly Parton. But there was one woman that I loved, Patty Loveless.”
Kelsea Ballerini reflected on the relationships in her life for her song choice. “Tis the season of family and friends and getting together with your people and recapping the year and feeling the good and the bad, and the highs and the lows. I crave friendship more than I ever have in my life. I just turned 30 and I realized the value of it in the last few years, and I really wanted to play this song tonight because I just think it’s the time of year to just love on your friends. And whether we go back 30 seconds or the last 10 years, if you go down…” she teased, before playing “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too).”
Before performing the Travis Tritt cover “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” HARDY encouraged fans to embrace the blessing of being alive. “In the spirit of holidays and stress and mental health, anxiety, whatever you got going on, it’s always good to take a look around and just realize that you’re breathing. We’re all here and we’re all lucky to be alive.”
Hall of Fame members Brooks & Dunn closed out the night with their hit “My Maria” and the Rodney Crowell tune “I Ain’t Living Long Like This.”
All for the Hall Setlist
Keith Urban: “Wild Hearts,” “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and “Theme from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ (Good Ol’ Boys)” (Waylon Jennings cover)
Vince Gill: “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” and “Rocky Mountain Way” (The Eagles cover)
Mickey Guyton: “Better Than You Left Me” and “Blame It On Your Heart” (Patty Loveless cover)
Riley Green: “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” and “Dixieland Delight” (Alabama cover)
Kelsea Ballerini: “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” and “You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole King cover)
Patty Loveless: “Nothin’ But the Wheel” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” (Jackie DeShannon cover)
Brenda Lee: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
Old Dominion: “Memory Lane” and “Alive” (Pearl Jam cover)
ERNEST: “Kiss of Death” and “That’s the Way Love Goes” (Merle Haggard cover)
The War and Treaty: “O Holy Night” and “Mr. Fun”
HARDY: “Truck Bed” and “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” (Travis Tritt cover)
Trisha Yearwood: “The Song Remembers When” and “You’re No Good” (Linda Ronstadt cover)
Brooks & Dunn: “My Maria” and “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” (Rodney Crowell cover)
The All for the Hall campaign was the brainchild of Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill in 2005, when he suggested country music artists contribute the proceeds of one annual performance to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. To date, All for the Hall concerts have raised nearly $6 million. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum collects, preserves and interprets country music and its history for the education and entertainment of diverse audiences. The museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. Fans can learn more at www.countrymusichalloffame.org.
Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Palsa has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.