WATCH: Alabama Stuns CMA Fest Crowd With Unforgettable Performance And Emotional Award Acceptance

The legendary band performed a surprise medley and were honored with a special award.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

July 19, 2023

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Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry of Alabama; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

CMA Fest attendees were shocked when the legendary band, Alabama, took to the Nissan Stadium stage. 

The surprise set from the nine-time CMA Award winners included performances of “Mountain Music,” a medley of “Dixieland Delight” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” 

YouTube video

During their unexpected set, the band was surprised with the CMA Pinnacle Award in a special presentation from CMA Fest co-host, Dierks Bentley. 

“They’ve had over 40 No. 1 songs, 75 million albums sold, three Entertainers of the Year, and the first band to ever play football stadiums,” Bentley said from the stage. “They’re the most successful band in country music. So, to recognize that achievement, we’re handing this out to Alabama tonight. This is the Pinnacle Award from the CMA.”

The remaining members of Alabama, Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, appeared to be emotional as they embraced and accepted the award. 

Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry of Alabama; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry of Alabama; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

“On behalf of our late cousin, Mr. Jeff Cook, who we recently lost, on behalf of me and Teddy, the whole Alabama gang, thank y’all for letting us play for ya for over 50 years. We love you,” Owen shared. 

Previous recipients of the CMA Pinnacle Award include Garth Brooks (2005), Taylor Swift (2013), and Kenny Chesney (2016).     

According to the Country Music Association, the Pinnacle Award recognizes an artist or group who has undeniably redefined the pinnacle of success in the genre by achieving prominence through concert performances, consumption numbers, record sales and/or other significant industry achievements at levels unique for Country Music. They have also attained the highest degree of recognition within the broad expanse of music worldwide, and their talent and presence will have a long-term positive impact on the appreciation of Country Music for generations to come.   

Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry of Alabama; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry of Alabama; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

The three-hour CMA Fest special was hosted by Dierks Bentley, Elle King, and Lainey Wilson and aired on ABC on Wednesday, July 19. 

Dubbed “the music event of summer,” the special featured 30+ performances and surprise collaborations from some of Country music’s hottest stars, including Alabama, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Leon Bridges, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Jordan Davis, Vince Gill, HARDY, Tyler Hubbard, Jelly Roll, Cody Johnson, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Avril Lavigne, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, Darius Rucker, Tanya Tucker, Keith Urban, and Lainey Wilson.  

Lainey Wilson, Dierks Bentley and Elle King.; Photo by ABC/Robby Klein
Lainey Wilson, Dierks Bentley and Elle King.; Photo by ABC/Robby Klein

CMA Fest marked its 50th Anniversary with a record-breaking celebration in Nashville, June 8 through June 11. 

The four-day event hosted an estimated daily attendance of over 90,000, a 12% increase from 2022, according to the Country Music Association. Additionally, the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium saw 10% growth from 2022.

The festival also hosted fans from all 50 states as well as a record-breaking 51 countries.

Dierks Bentley, Elle King, Lainey Wilson; Photo Courtesy CMA/ ABC
Dierks Bentley, Elle King, Lainey Wilson; Photo Courtesy CMA/ ABC

“What a weekend! As we’ve spent the past year reflecting on this milestone celebration, one theme has persisted—the incredible connection between Country Music fans and the artists,” Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, shared in a statement. “It’s magical because it still matters after all these years. From first-timers to legends, so many artists started as fans—some as far back as Fan Fair. Almost every artist who performs during the festival has had their own experience as a fan, so for many of them, taking the stage at CMA Fest is a full-circle moment. We only get the chance to celebrate our 50th anniversary once, and to do so in such an impactful way has meant the world to us. Thank you, Country Music!”   

More than 300 acts took part in CMA Fest this year, including performances at the Chevy Riverfront Stage, Dr Pepper Amp Stage, Chevy Vibes Stage, Maui Jim Reverb Stage and the Hard Rock Stage as well at Fan Fair X inside Music City Center. 

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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 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.