The T.J. Martell Nashville Honors Gala brought out celebrities and respected industry leaders to the Omni last night (March 10) for the 6th annual soiree and celebration.
The Foundation, led by CEO Laura Heatherly, raised more than $500,000 toward innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS.
Host Charles “Chip” Esten from ABC’s Nashville, greeted the enthusiastic crowd, sharing his personal experience with his daughter’s fight with leukemia, announcing she was now cancer free. Applause and gratitude from the attendees set the stage for the real reason we had all attended.
Sheryl Crow kicked off the night’s performances with a duet of “Homecoming Queen,” a track off her 2013 debut country album Feels Like Home, with rising star Charlie Worsham in honor of Dr. Scott Hiebert. Hiebert was presented the Medical Research Advancement Award by fellow Vanderbilt research doctor, Dr. Jennifer Pietenpol. Hiebert shared that we had made great strides in treating cancer in the last five years, adding “funding is the only thing standing between us and real cures of cancer.”
Mark Bloom, who serves as Sr. VP UBS Financial Services, is devoted to the economic growth of Nashville. In his honor, country superstar Tim McGraw took the stage for a moving performance of his hit “My Little Girl.” McGraw then presented Bloom with the Spirit of Nashville Award.
McGraw told the audience that when we go outside tonight, we should “savor the beauty of our city’s skyline” and thank Bloom for that moment of pride. Bloom shared that our city has become the true ‘It’ city mainly due to “the music industry being so important in attracting the brightest,” and “the warm, embracing nature of the people who live here.”
Immediately following dinner, the Blue Sky Riders performed a rendition of their song “Dream” in honor of Beth Dortch Franklin. Franklin’s daughter, Ruth, presented her mother with the Lifetime Humanitarian Award. Franklin, who had fought her own successful battle with breast cancer in 1999, quipped, “Let’s say ‘YES’ and beat cancer.”
Honoree Mike Dungan was welcomed by a special acoustic performance of “History In The Making” by Universal Music Group artist Darius Rucker. Looking at Dungan, Rucker added, “You changed my life and I wanted to be here for you.”
Fellow music executive Tim DuBois presented the Frances Preston Lifetime Music Industry Award to Dungan after giving gratitude to the many people in the room who had prayed in the past for his daughter’s successful fight against leukemia.
Referring to Dungan, DuBois told the crowd, “In our 10 years together, we sold over 100 million records and that was just the beginning [for him].” DuBois added, “Mike’s leadership inspires all of us, who are lucky enough to work with him or for him. The biggest compliment you can give a guy in the record business is to say he has ears. Well I’m here to tell you this guy has ears, he has heart and he has a weird sense of humor that keeps the whole industry smiling.”
Dungan took the stage, confessing, “I’ve been coming to T.J. Martell events for 25 years. Most of the people who have received this award are my icons. To think that I’m up here now, just doesn’t feel right.” Dungan added, “This gentleman next to me, I cannot tell you the influence Tim DuBois has had on me. He is the singular reason I am here. He showed me that you can win and you can do it with integrity and kindness and all the things that are good in life. I have tried my best to carry that through the rest of my career and I cannot thank him enough for that. Along the way I’ve worked with a lot of different people, people who were brilliant, inspirational people. But the truth is I’ve benefitted from every bit of that experience and I’m grateful to all of them.” And from the response by the audience, the gratitude was mutual.
Jake Owen concluded the night of outstanding performances when he took the stage and offered a cover of Conway Twitty’s “Crazy In Love” in honor of Dale Morris, the Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award winner. Morris received the honor from country hit-maker Kenny Chesney who shared, “Dale Morris didn’t just touch my life, he altered it in a great way. The world needs a lot more of Dale Morrises and I love you so much.”
Morris referred to Chesney with a smile and said, “I can’t afford him, but I sure do love him,” before adding a more serious tone saying, “This is an amazing thing to happen to my life at this time. It means a lot to be recognized”, calling Kenny “more of a son to me than an artist” and that Alabama, whose Randy Owen was sitting in the audience, had changed his life.
The event was co-chaired by Danielle Bouharoun, Wells-Fargo Private Banking; Ree Buchanan, Wrensong Publishing; and Mark Wright, Show Dog-Universal.
“This affair is one of Nashville’s most anticipated annual fundraisers and honors some truly notable and deserving community leaders,” said Tinti Moffat, T.J. Martell Foundation’s director of strategic development. “We challenged ourselves this year to raise the bar and were so pleased with the outcome. We couldn’t be more appreciative of the support from the music, the business and the medical communities.”
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About the AuthorSherod Robertson is President and Owner of MusicRow Enterprises. He oversees all operations and develops strategic initiatives for MusicRow magazine, RowFax, and MusicRow's CountryBreakout chart. Robertson previously served as Director of Finance of Arista Records after beginning his career as Vice President of Finance and CFO at Reunion Records.
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