The “In Memoriam” factor will be high on next week’s CMA Awards telecast, as an all-star opening tribute to Charlie Daniels will be followed during the ABC telecast by individual performers’ salutes to the late Kenny Rogers and Joe Diffie. All three of these tributees died this year.
The homages to country music’s dearly departed were announced Thursday as part of a talent rollout for the show that also includes Justin Bieber joining Dan + Shay for the first live performance of their joint hit from earlier this year, “10,000 Hours.”
The tribute to Daniels at the top of the show will include Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne (pictured above), Jason Aldean, Ashley McBryde and Jenee Fleenor (already announced as the musician of the year winner) performing a medley of some of the singer-fiddler’s hits.
Little Big Town will do the musical tribute to Kenny Rogers, and Joe Diffie will be saluted by Jon Pardi.
More details about the unusual nature of this year’s audience-free live telecast were revealed as well. “As safety is our top priority,” said Robert Deaton, the show’s longtime executive producer, “we have worked tirelessly over the past several months to fully transform Music City Center [Nashville’s convention center into a breathtaking setup that resembles the very first ‘CMA Awards Banquet and Show’ from 1967, and ensures our nominees, performers and their guests a fully safe and physically distant environment. We are honored, in this very challenging time, to help provide an escape and deliver a live awards show experience unlike any other this year.”
Also scheduled on the tribute front is Old Dominion performing the oldie “Looking for Love” as a 40th anniversary salute to the film whose soundtrack popularized the song, “Urban Cowboy.”
Among those newly announced as performing their own recent hits: Morgan Wallen singing “More Than My Hometown”; a Lee Brice/Carly Pearce duet of the chart-topper “I Hope You’re Happy Now”; Ingrid Andress’ reading of her song of the year nominee “More Hearts Than Mine”; Jimmie Allen (who’ll also present a lifetime achievement award to Charley Pride) singing “Best Shot”; and Keith Urban, remotely joining the proceedings from Australia, singing “God Whispered Your Name.”
Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker co-host the show, which airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Nov. 11.