Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan Share The Love For ETC at Tribute Concert

Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, and other artists who were fans of Earl Thomas Conley gathered at the CMA Theatre at the Country Music Hall of Fame last Tuesday (Sept. 10) to pay tribute to the man Shelton called “my superhero.”

Before a near capacity crowd, the group of entertainers, which also included John Anderson, Wade Hayes, Joe Diffie, Walt Aldridge, Neal McCoy, Dale Ann Bradley, Errin Scates and The Earl Thomas Conley Band talked about Conley’s influence on them and performed his songs, agreeing that many of them appear deceptively easy to sing. Bryan, who sang “Once In A Blue Moon,” remarked during rehearsals that he was probably going to have to switch to falsetto on some of the high notes, quipping, “You just don’t know the range in these songs until you try to sing them.”

Many artists shared fond memories of Conley. Neal McCoy traveled with Conley when the two opened for Charley Pride, and Wade Hayes recalled his first purchase of a Conley tune was “Fire and Smoke.” Before Hayes got into the business himself, he recalled meeting the singer at a celebrity golf tournament. “He was so kind but a little shy, and that always stuck with me.”

Aldean also met Conley early in his career and was invited to go on his bus. “He said he liked my music, and I had only had a couple songs out at that time. I was struck by his kindness.”

Bill Cody and Devon O’Day from WSM-AM 650 co-hosted the tribute, adding their favorite stories of Conley. “I remember one day I was interviewing Earl and I asked him who his heroes were,” Cody said. “He said Merle Haggard, Lefty Frizzell, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, and I looked at him and said, ‘Didn’t you want to be anybody well behaved?” Earl just looked at me and said, ‘Apparently not’.”

Also featured in the tribute were videos sent by artists who couldn’t take part in the memorial from Marty Raybon of Shenandoah, Little Big Town, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Steve Wariner, the Oak Ridge Boys, Jake Owens, Toby Keith and Vince Gill.

The Essential Earl Thomas Conley was recently released by Sony Legacy. It is available only on digital and includes a brand-new song by Earl, “Love’s The Only Voice.”

John Anderson, Joe Diffie

Blake Shelton with Earl Thomas Conley’s daughter, Erinn Scates, and Carole Scates and Cassie Scates

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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has over 20 years of music business experience and has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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