Kenny Chesney And Alan Jackson To Lead Heartfelt Tribute To The Late Jimmy Buffett At 2023 CMA Awards

The artists will be joined by Zac Brown Band and Mac McAnally for a “very special” moment during “Country Music’s Biggest Night.”


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

November 1, 2023


10:32 am

Share on:

Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson; Photos Provided

The late Jimmy Buffett will be honored with “a very special tribute” from Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Mac McAnally and Zac Brown Band at the upcoming 57th Annual CMA Awards. The Country Music Association (CMA) revealed the news early Wednesday morning.  

Jimmy Buffett Tribute

11-time CMA Award winner Chesney, 10-time CMA Award winner and longtime The Coral Reefer Band member Mac McAnally, 16-time CMA Award winner Alan Jackson and 2023 Vocal Group of the Year nominee Zac Brown Band have each previously collaborated with the “Margaritaville” singer/songwriter so the performance will be profoundly meaningful.  

The tribute performance will take place at the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday, November 8, just over nine weeks since Buffett’s tragic passing. 

When And How Did Jimmy Buffett Die?

The cultural icon passed away on September 1, 2023 at the age of 76. 

“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” a statement posted to his official social media accounts read. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

His official website later revealed that he had been quietly fighting Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for the past four years.   

Jimmy Buffett; Photo by Jean-Philippe Piter
Jimmy Buffett; Photo by Jean-Philippe Piter

Following his passing, members of the music community shared heartfelt tributes in honor of the “Come Monday” singer, including Kenny Chesney who was one of the first to honor his dear friend. The Tennessee native shared an oceanside performance of “A Pirate Looks At Forty” and wrote, “So goodbye Jimmy. Thanks for your friendship and the songs I will carry in my heart forever. Sail On Sailor.”

Did Mac McAnally Play With Jimmy Buffett?

McAnally is a longtime member of Buffett’s band, The Coral Reefer Band, and previously co-wrote several tracks with the superstar. Additionally, McAnally co-produced several of Buffett’s albums, including his posthumous new album, Equal Strain On All Parts, which is set to arrive on November 3.  

Mac McAnally; Photo by Taylor Shults
Mac McAnally; Photo by Taylor Shults

McAnally was still reeling over Buffett’s passing when he shared a tribute to the singer three weeks after his death. “The closest thing I ever had to a big brother left this world on September 1,” he wrote.

At Buffett’s request, The Coral Reefer Band will continue on. During a recent interview with Billboard, Mac McAnally revealed that he plans to “keep the party going.”

“The Coral Reefer Band is second family to all of us,” McAnally shared. “We are a family and Jimmy wants us to continue and we want to continue. There’s ongoing discussions about the best way to do that, the most practical way to do that and how to do it in a way that is worthy of the legacy that we’re part of.”

YouTube video

Alan Jackson previously teamed up with Buffett on the iconic hit, “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere.” The track arrived in the summer of 2003 and went on to win the CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year in 2003. It was also named the No.3 country song of the decade by Billboard.

Zac Brown Band worked with Buffett on numerous occasions, including the song “Knee Deep” in 2011. They later shared the stage for CMT Crossroads in 2020, and in 2022, they joined forces for a reimagined version of ZBB’s chart-topping hit, “Same Boat.” 

Zac Brown Band; Photo by Tyler Lord
Zac Brown Band; Photo by Tyler Lord

How Can I Watch The CMA Awards 2023?

The CMA Awards will also feature performances by Morgan Wallen, HARDY, Post Malone, Luke Bryan, Jelly Roll, K. Michelle, Little Big Town, Megan Moroney, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, Tanya Tucker, Lainey Wilson, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Jordan Davis, Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde, The War And Treaty and more.

Hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, “Country Music’s Biggest Night” will broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, on Wednesday Nov. 8 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC. The show will be available the next day on Hulu.

Share on:

Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.