Nashville Shines at T.J. Martell Honors Gala

(L-R): Thomas G. Cigarran (Spirit of Nashville Award), C. Wright Pinson (Lifetime Medical Achievement Award), Kris Kristofferson (Frances Williams Preston Lifetime Music Industry Award), Joe Galante (Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award), Colin V. Reed (Lifetime Humanitarian Award)

The fourth annual T.J. Martell Honors Gala was held at the Hutton Hotel this past week, raising over $400,000 for 11 top U.S. cancer research hospitals, including the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

The sold-out event was hosted by Vince Gill and musical performances included K.T. Oslin (“80s Ladies”); Emmylou Harris (Kris Kristofferson’s “The Last Thing to Go”); Gill (“Together Again”); Charlie Daniels (Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”); Martina McBride (“Independence Day”); Ronnie Dunn (Brooks & Dunn’s “Believe”); and Bruce Hornsby (a piano interpretation of “A Night on the Town”).

Former TN Governor Phil Bredesen and Nashville Chamber President Ralph Schulz presented Tom Cigarran with the Spirit of Nashville Award for professional and charitable work within the Nashville community.

Kris Kristofferson was honored with a standing ovation while accepting the Frances Williams Preston Lifetime Music Industry Award, presented to him by Harris and the legendary BMI executive herself, Frances Williams Preston.

Gaylord Chairman and CEO Colin Reed received the Lifetime Humanitarian Award from Gill and Lew Conner, who spoke of Reed’s leadership during the 2010 Nashville flood.

C. Wright Pinson, who founded Vanderbilt University’s liver transplantation program and liver surgery division in 1990, was awarded by Vanderbilt’s liver transplant recipient Julie Damon with Charlie Daniels.

The final, Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award, went to music executive Joe Galante. Dolly Parton and Kenny Chesney presented Galante, who thanked his mentors: Jerry Bradley, Frances Preston, Joe Talbot and Irving Waugh.

“I didn’t get the town or the music,” said Galante. “But that all changed when I was asked to go with Dolly on a promo trip in New York City. Dolly was to ride the Long Island Rail Road and at every stop get out and sing a song on a flatbed car…In between stops we just talked and laughed. It became a turning point for me. I know I’m home now in Nashville — this has been a very special night.”

Over the last four years, the Honors Gala, which is a part of The T. J. Martell Foundation, has raised a total of $1.8 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. The foundation was founded in 1975 by music executive Tony Martell and his colleagues, in memory of his son, T.J., who died of leukemia. The Foundation has provided over $250 million dollars for research at top research hospitals in the United States.

(Photos: Rick Diamond, Getty Images)



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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine,, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. | @EricTParker

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