Since its inception in 1967, the CMA Awards have offered some of the most memorable moments in television history. Here's a look back at fifteen unforgettable performances from country music's biggest night.
Alan Jackson, "Where You Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," 2001
Perhaps the most solemn moment came after Alan Jackson's live debut of his signature hit. Audience members wept as Alan's words perfectly summed up the horrific events of September 11, 2001. The moment remains one of the top performances ot the organization's annual ceremony.
Alan Jackson, "Pop A Top/Choices," 1999
After George Jones declined to perform at the CMA's due to producers only giving him a thirty-second slot, Alan Jackson was not happy. In his dressing room, minutes prior to his performance at the telecast, Alan informed his band that he might start playing George's hit, "Choices" midway through his set. When Alan launched into "Choices" the audience jumped to their feet and gave him a lengthy ovation.
Kellie Pickler, "I Wonder," 2007
Horizon nominee Kellie Pickler performed her single, "I Wonder," on the 2007 live show. During the final verse of the autobiographical song, Kellie broke down onstage. She tearfully managed to finish the song and sobbed onstage, as the crowd and television viewers cried along with her.
Nashville Cats, "Restless," 1991
An all-star cast opened the CMA Awards show in 1991 and may be the most star-studded performance ever. The performance featured Mark O'Conner,Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Carl Perkins, Jerry Douglas, Albert Lee, Marty Stuart, Bill Monroe, and Randy and Earl Scruggs performing, "Restless."
Randy Travis, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Vern Gosdin, and Roy Rogers, "Heroes and Friends," 1991
A stellar line-up appeared with Randy Travis on his 1991 song, "Heroes and Friends." George Jones and Tammy Wynette joined Randy for the song and surprise guests Vern Gosdin and Roy Rogers appeared midway through the hit. The collaboration is one of the most-talked about in country music history.
George Jones, "Hello Darlin'," 1993
Only the greatest country singer in history could possibly pull off a rendition of Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin.'" George Jones honored Conway Twitty, who had passed away in 1993 with a tearful version of Twitty's signature hit. Audiences members including June Carter Cash and The Judds cried as George Jones mustered up the ability to perform the heart-wrenching tribute.
Mary Chapin Carpenter, "Opening Act," 1990
Before hitting it big, an unknown Mary Chapin Carpenter performed a humorous tune titled, "Opening Act." The song depicted the struggle of new artists and earned her a standing ovation from the CMA crowd. Mary Chapin Carpenter would go on to win several CMA Female Vocalist of the Year trophies.
Reba McEntire and Linda Davis, "Does He Love You,"1993
An audible gasp was heard in the Grand Ole Opry House as Reba McEntire appeared onstage at the 1993 CMA Awards. Her famous red dress turned heads and was the talk of the evening. Reba and duet partner Linda Davis, mother to Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott, performed their duet "Does He Love You." Liza Minnelli led a standing ovation for the duo's powerful performance.
Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Ricky Skaggs, "Go Rest High On That Mountain," 1995
The beautiful musicianship between the the three traditional artists and the emotional lyrics made the performance of "Go Rest High On That Mountain" one of the most memorable CMA moments. To date, this remains one of Vince Gill's most-requested songs.
Johnny Cash Tribute, 2003
Many of Johnny Cash's personal friends paid tribute to the late star in 2003. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson performed hits from Johnny Cash's impressive catalog. The late Johnny Cash won several awards that evening, including Album of the Year.
Alabama, "Mountain Music," 1982
Alabama shook things up in country music with their style of country music and their performance of "Mountain Music" on the 1982 telecast proved to be memorable. The Ft. Payne, Alabama, band still continue influence droves of new artists today.
Brooks & Dunn, "Only In America," 2001
With their "Steers & Stripes" record, Brooks & Dunn were reenergized and better than ever. Their opening number on the 2001 telecast with "Only In America" was a fitting tribute that acknowledged the events of September 11, 2001 and showcased American pride.
Zac Brown Band, "Chicken Fried," 2009
The Zac Brown Band performed a rousing rendition of their debut single, "Chicken Fried" in 2009. They concluded the high energy performance with "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," which had audiences members on their feet before the song ended.
Diamond Rio, "One More Day," 2001
Diamond Rio's massive hit, "One More Day," was one of the decades biggest; it spent several non-consecutive weeks at the top of the charts and even garnered crossover airplay. Images of country music stars who had passed away in 2001 including John Hartford and Chet Atkins appeared on a large screen during the band's performance. During the final verses, photo and video that displayed acts of patriotism during the days after September 11, 2001, were shown. The performance was a definite highlight of the emotion-filled telecast and received a deserving standing ovation.
LeAnn Rimes, "Blue," 1996
Usually stars wait years and years for the opportunity to even have the chance to be considered for an opening slot on the CMA Awards. LeAnn Rimes proved to be an exception. The young singer graced the stage with her show-stopping performance of her debut single, "Blue" during the 1996 telecast.