Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney Lead Powerful Tribute To Jimmy Buffett At CMA Awards
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Wednesday night’s 57th CMA Awards brought a host of performances and special appearances, but none was quite as moving as the tribute performance for Jimmy Buffett.
Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, Mac McAnally and Caroline Jones teamed up to pay tribute to the late legend who passed away September 1. Each of the artists had the honor of befriending and performing with Buffett during their careers.
In 2003, Alan Jackson invited Buffett to join him on “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” the lead single for his Greatest Hits II album. Buffett’s involvement on the song was kept quiet until its release. The collaboration topped the charts for eight weeks and earned the pair a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Song as well as ACM and CMA Awards for Vocal Event of the Year in 2003.
Kenny Chesney was a longtime friend of Jimmy Buffett and the two collaborated on “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season,” a single from Chesney’s 2018 album Songs for the Saints.
“Each one of [the album’s guests] has a tie to my life in the islands, but also reflect some piece of what we’re trying to do,” Kenny said at the time. “Jimmy, more than the lost shaker of salt, understands the poetry of the islands beyond what tourists see, the life in a way that made a song written decades ago so current.”
Jimmy Buffett also paired with Zac Brown for a chart-topping song in 2011. The duo recorded “Knee Deep” for Zac Brown Band’s second major studio album, You Get What You Give. That performance was just one of many the men shared, including an episode of CMT Crossroads and several on-stage performances that followed.
Mac McAnally is an accomplished singer and songwriter, but is perhaps best known as a longtime member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band. An 8-time CMA Musician of the Year winner, McAnally was one of Buffett’s closest friends. He once said that Jimmy was the closest thing he’s ever had to a brother. Upon Buffett’s passing, Mac determined to protect his friend’s legacy and finish what he started … that included completion of Jimmy’s final album, Equal Strain On All Parts, which was released November 3.
Caroline Jones was a solo artist before becoming an official member of Zac Brown Band in 2022. Jimmy Buffett played a vital role in her solo career as Buffett signed her to his Mailboat Record label.
To see this group on stage that share a common love for country music and Jimmy Buffett was an incredible moment.
Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally kicked off the tribute with a performance of Jimmy Buffett’s 1974 hit, “A Pirate Looks At Forty.” Then Alan Jackson and Zac Brown, joined by Caroline Jones, sang Buffett’s signature tune, “Margaritaville.”
Jackson and Brown paid further tribute to Buffett with their attire, Zac wearing shorts and a tropical shirt and Alan wearing sunglasses with his signature cowboy hat.
Jimmy Buffett would be proud and honored to know that his music made such a profound impact. See a clip of their performance below.