NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — The Country Music Association marked its 60th anniversary on Wednesday evening with an invite-only industry soiree at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville.
The night featured performances from more than 20 acts, including TG Sheppard & Kelly Lang; Lee Greenwood, Darryl Worley, Ty Herndon, and Mark Wills, with the backing of Joe Denim and an All-Star Band.
After welcoming remarks from CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern, Jeannie Seely kicked off the evening with a rendition of “Who Needs You.” Michael Ray and Craig Wayne Boyd performed back-to-back Merle Haggard classics, with Ray singing “Okie from Muskogee” and Boyd singing “The Fighting Side of Me.”
Halfway to Hazard performed Montgomery Gentry’s “My Town” in a moving tribute to Troy Gentry, while Hilary Williams, daughter of Hank Williams Jr., performed her father’s “Old Habits.” Backstage, Lee Greenwood and Larry, Steve & Rudy, The Gatlin Brothers, sang an impromptu version of Greenwood’s hit “God Bless The U.S.A.,” which the Gatlin Brothers provided background vocals for on the original 1984 recording.
Artists joined Trahern and CMA staff on stage for a birthday toast and sing-a-long rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Lee Brice closed the evening with a stellar performance of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition.”
Originally launched in 1968 as the first-ever trade group to advocate for a particular genre of music, the CMA has grown to include more than 7,400 members worldwide.