Submitted by Don Graham
Country music needs some savin’. The road has been bumpy with resistance to some of the changes in song content and presentation. Some of the discontent is justified as a lot more emphasis seems to be placed on how much revenue a song can generate as opposed to how the song can reach and touch people. But country music is strong and has a rich history and background to draw on. So with the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association Awards coming in November some of the biggest acts in country music have joined together and filmed a remarkable and memorable video – ‘Forever Country’.
Shane McAnally, a CMA winner as well as a board member, produced the video and confessed that the mashing together of several country music’s classics was ‘a very scary process’.“The first conversation I remember having about the CMA project was at a CMA board meeting when everyone was just sort of brainstorming about an interesting, unique way that might bring light to the 50th Anniversary,” he explained.“I didn’t think it would work in our genre. I said, ‘Maybe in pop music you can just take a piece of a song, but we tell stories. And we can’t just cut into them and take a piece.”
But judging by the final result that fear was unfounded. The video is a remarkable piece of work.
The song features 30 artists from different generations of country music, then and now and is a crisp salute to the genre through the years. Three songs that you would never think of in a medley format, John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’,Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ and the Willie Nelson classic ‘On the Road Again’are masterfully combined in a musical collage.
Legends like Ronnie Milsap, Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire make appearances as do contemporary stars like Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan. Groups are represented by Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum and Alabama. Randy Travis gets in on the celebration by making a special non-singing appearance. Travis is still recovering from the stroke he suffered in 2013.
Having Brad Paisley kick off the song with “Almost Heaven, West Virginia, adds to the authenticity as he is a native West Virginia and Keith Urban’s delivery of “Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River” sets the tone for the rest of the journey.
The video was filmed over three days in Nashville, Tennessee during the CMA Music Festival in June while all the busy entertainers were in one place at the same time.
All the performers were shot on a green screen with images of fields, farms, back roads, railroad tracks, Nashville’s Lower Broadway and other iconic locations throughout the world added later. Brooks & Dunn reunite to sing together in the middle of a field, while Nelson is under the Eiffel Tower.
All profits from the sale and streaming of ‘Forever Country’ will go toward music education causes supported by the CMA Foundation.
The 50th annual CMA Awards will air on November 2nd on CMT.
And what better way to end the video than Dolly Parton singing/ speaking “I will always love you.”
Artists of Then, Now and Forever – Forever Country