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George Strait was the man of the evening as industry executives, members of the entertainment media and other invited guests gathered at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Wednesday night (Aug. 28), to honor the superstar in words and song. George’s family and several of George’s favorite songwriters were also in attendance to share in his special night.
The presentation began with video tributes from Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and other stars sharing memories of George as well as their all-time favorite George songs. Songwriters Jim Lauderdale, Dean Dillon, Phil O’Donnell and Tim James entered the stage to perform a few of the songs they had written for George over the years. “The most coveted cut for a songwriter is a George Strait cut,” Jim told the audience. Dean performed George’s debut single, “Unwound,” which he wrote with Frank Dycus.
The timing of the event could not have been better, as it was on Aug. 28, 1982, that George scored the first of his 60 (counting all charts) No. 1 singles, “Fool Hearted Memory.” George took the podium to address the crowd and thanked his label for the special evening.
“This means a lot to me and my family,” George said. “It’s been so much fun for all these years.” George also drew laughs as he commented on the archival videos that aired during the evening, showcasing George from his early years in the 1980s to the present day. “Some of those shirts really were in style then,” he quipped.
The best news of the evening came from Mike Dungan, the head of Universal Music Group, George’s label home. Mike announced that George and the label had reached an agreement for George to record five brand-new albums over the next several years. George will retire from touring after his 2014 series of concerts, but he promised to continue recording. So, fans can definitely look forward to more George music in years to come.
The lucky guests were treated to a performance from George and his band to close out the evening. George played “Amarillo by Morning” and “The Chair,” leading up to a powerful moment.
Students from the Eakin Elementary School in Nashville joined George onstage to perform his current single, “I Believe,” which George co-wrote as a way of honoring the school children who died in the Newtown, Conn., tragedy in 2012.
A thunderous ovation followed—the perfect ending to a memorable night in Nashville.