Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley + More Kick Off 2020 CMA Awards With Blazing Charlie Daniels Tribute
Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and more big stars kicked off the 2020 CMA Awards in style on Wednesday night (Nov. 11), using the time at the top of the show to pay musical tribute to Charlie Daniels.
Ashley McBryde and the Brothers Osborne were also on hand to help salute the late musical legend, who we lost in 2020. Together, the performers ripped through an epic, multi-song tribute performance spanning some of Daniels' greatest hits over the course of his lengthy career.
Of course, one of those was the Charlie Daniels Band's enduring 1979 hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," featuring a note-perfect fiddle solo — all the more amazing since reigning Musician of the Year Jenee Fleenor had to bow out last-minute due to testing positive for COVID-19.
Bentley kicked off the tribute with a simple, appropriately heartfelt acoustic rendition of "Long-Haired Country Boy." Brothers Osborne joined him for a rousing, funky version of "Trudy," and Ashley McBryde turned in a rockin' version of "Texas." John Osborne's incendiary guitar playing was at the musical center of those performances.
Georgia boy Aldean turned in a high-energy rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which turned out to be ideally suited to his mix of rock, country and hip-hop influences.
The Country Music Hall of Famer and founder of the Charlie Daniels band died in July 2020 after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83 years old. Leading up to his death, the country and Southern rock legend continued to perform and make music, releasing Beau Weevils - Songs in the Key of E in 2018 with his side group, the Beau Weevils. Prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns, Daniels had also planned a tour this year with the Marshall Tucker Band.
2020 was a heavy year for losses in country music, and a number of other tribute performances are planned for later in Wednesday night's show. Kenny Rogers and Joe Diffie, who both died this year, will be honored at the 2020 CMA Awards by Little Big Town and Jon Pardi, respectively.