Tim McGraw Emotionally Pays Tribute To Keith Whitley During ‘BIG NIGHT (At the Museum)’

Tim McGraw got a bit emotional when honoring the late Keith Whitley during the BIG NIGHT (At the Museum) live stream in…


Lauren Jo Black

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October 28, 2020


9:18 pm

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Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw got a bit emotional when honoring the late Keith Whitley during the BIG NIGHT (At the Museum) live stream in support of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

McGraw played Keith Whitley’s C.W. Parsons acoustic guitar while performing his chart-topping single “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” The song was written by Bob McDill and released in 1988 as the third single from Whitley’s album of the same name.

Prior to his performance, McGraw reflected on the time he met Whitley while visiting his mom and sister in Jacksonville, Florida and shared the impact Whitley’s life and death had on him.

“Keith Whitley came to town. I was a huge fan…Keith Whitley played at the Jacksonville Arena and he was there with Lorrie Morgan so I waited in line at the end of the thing and Lori and Keith were signing autographs. I only had enough money to buy one picture so I bought Keith’s picture. So I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and finally I get up to Keith and I’m so nervous and I hand him the picture and said ‘Keith I’m a country singer and I’m going to move to Nashville someday and I hope I can meet you’ and he says ‘well son good luck to you. I hope I run into you up there’ and he signed my picture.”

Fast forward “a few years later” and McGraw found himself arriving in Nashville on May 9, 1989. The same day Whitley died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 34.

“It was a pretty eye-opening experience to get into Nashville and realize that well there’s a lot of bright lights a lot of fun a lot of music a lot of art entertainment but behind all of that there’s a lot of pain too,” McGraw acknowledged. “I think that that’s what makes country music so great and music, in general, is our greatest being able to bring that pain to your music and hopefully it doesn’t overtake you and go somewhere else.”


BIG NIGHT (At the Museum) aired on YouTube on Wednesday evening (Oct. 28) at 8pm CT live from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The live stream also featured performances from Alison Brown, Kane Brown, Carlene Carter, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Reba McEntire, Keb’ Mo’, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, The War and Treaty, Dan Tyminski and Lucinda Williams. The show was hosted by Country Music Hall of Fame member Marty Stuart.

During BIG NIGHT (At the Museum), donations are welcomed via YouTube Giving and a text to donate option (text ‘Donate’ to (833) 977-2643).

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Lauren Jo Black

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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 Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. 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.