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It was another star-studded evening in Music City as Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen and other stars took part in the T.J. Martell Honors Gala at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville, Monday night (March 10). The evening, hosted by Charles “Chip” Esten from the popular ABC show Nashville, helped raise more than $500,000 for the T.J. Martell Foundation, a leading center for cancer, AIDS and leukemia research.
The main portion of the event honored five prominent individuals in the music, business and medical fields: Mike Dungan, CEO of Universal Music Group; real estate visionary Mark Bloom; Beth Dortch Franklin, breast cancer survivor and businesswoman; Dr. Scott Hiebert of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville; and artist manager Dale Morris. Each honoree was saluted with a musical performance prior to his or her award presentation.
Sheryl Crow kicked off the performances with “Homecoming Queen” from her country album Feels Like Home, accompanied by Charlie Worsham on vocals and mandolin. “He’s my favorite artist right now,” Sheryl raved. Tim McGraw followed and did double duty, first presenting Mark Bloom with the Spirit of Nashville Award for his work in transforming downtown Nashville, and then performing a heartfelt “My Little Girl.” Blue Sky Riders, the talented trio of pop icon Kenny Loggins, vocalist Georgia Middleman and top songwriter Gary Burr, harmonized mightily on “Dream.”
Darius Rucker took the stage to sing the praises of his record label head Mike Dungan, recipient of the Frances Preston Lifetime Music Industry Achievement Award. “I’m honored to be here,” Darius said. “You changed my life and I wanted to be here for you.” Darius followed his remarks with his hit “History in the Making.” Mike Dungan was also saluted in a video tribute featuring several of his label's artists, including Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan and George Strait.
Jake Owen selected a classic tune, Conway Twitty’s “Crazy in Love,” before Dale Morris' presentation. Jake showed an impressive, effortless range in his soulful delivery. Kenny Chesney then presented Dale with the Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award.
Luke Bryan, Chris Young, Big & Rich, Alabama’s Randy Owen and other notables were spotted in the crowd. Attendees had the opportunity to bid on several silent auction items, including a frame containing the handwritten lyrics to Miranda Lambert’s hit “The House That Built Me,” travel packages and autographed merchandise.