Each year, the label group takes over the venue to showcase its lineup of superstars and rising acts. The show usually ends with a performance from a surprise artist, and this time it was Reba.
The country legend has re-signed with MCA Records, the label on which she scored many of her biggest hits, and marked the occasion Thursday by singing her 1984 number one hit “How Blue,” as well as “And Still” and “Fancy.”
Carrie Underwood had never taken part in the Ryman event, so fans were thrilled to see her step onstage. She sang a song which she hadn’t performed on her current tour because, she said, it’s so personal: “Spinning Bottles” from her Cry Pretty album.
Last year at this event, Keith Urban premiered his song “We Were” and on Thursday, he premiered another new song, “God Whispered Your Name.” And since Carrie was in the house, of course Keith brought her out to sing their hit duet “The Fighter” — and the audience went wild.
Luke Bryan nearly took the stage without his band, who showed up at the last minute due to, of all things, parking problems. He performed the title track of his upcoming album Born Here Live Here Die Here.
Dierks Bentley‘s 90s parody group Hot Country Knights opened the show with “Pick Her Up,” complete with mullet wigs, sunglasses, cut off midriff shirts and super-tight jeans. Dierks actually reached into the fly of his jeans and pulled out a flute, which he then played — or pretended to play.
Here’s who else played what at the event:
Sam Hunt: A new song from his Southside album, “2016”
Jon Pardi: “Ain’t Always the Cowboy,” from Heartache Medication
Brothers Osborne: A bluesy new song which may be called “Skeletons”
Kip Moore: “She’s Mine,” in a medley with another song which may be called “Janie Blue”
Travis Denning: “Abby” (which stands for “Any body but you”)
Brandon Lay: “For My Money”
Mickey Guyton: “What Are You Gonna Tell Her”
Parker McCollum: “Pretty Heart”
Caylee Hammack: “Small Town Hypocrite”
Adam Hambrick: “Forever Ain’t Long Enough”
Kylie Morgan: “I Break Things”
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