NEW YORK, October 7, 2015 —An all-star lineup, reaching
across generations and genres, drew a rousing response from
a sold-out PlayStation®Theater audience during a
All for the
fundraising concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame and
Museum on October 6.
The stripped-down acoustic performances focused attention on
the artistry of songwriting and singing—talents delivered
with grace and power by the lineup of Vince Gill, Emmylou
Harris, Brad Paisley, Paul Simon and Carrie Underwood.
“The magic of these nights is the diversity that winds up
onstage,” said Gill, who co-hosted the evening with Harris.
“It’s not just about hits and what’s going on in country
music at the moment. It’s so healthy that we’re open-minded
and welcome to all things. It’s good that we’re all
Kyle Young, the museum’s chief executive officer, pointed
out that the evening’s performers had won a total of 56
Grammy Awards. “That should tell you everything you need to
know,” he said, “about the caliber of artists who are
volunteering their time tonight.”
The concert was modeled on the Nashville institution of a
“guitar pull,” a casual set-up in which performers take
turns presenting songs while the others look on, at times
adding harmony or instrumentation. The format encourages
relaxed interaction between performers, and the artists on
this night mixed jokes, jibes and from-the-heart comments.
Paisley often took guitar solos on Gill’s songs, and Gill
offered solos on Paisley’s songs, focusing on sharing their
mutual talents. Gill, Harris and Underwood often added
harmonies to songs by others.
Paisley heralded the guitar-pull tradition, noting that on
any given night in Nashville, several clubs will feature
songwriters sitting on stools next to each other and
performing their songs.
Simon added that while New York musicians did have a
community feel, they weren’t as open to revealing themselves
and their work with each other in the way Nashville artists
Every other performer mentioned what an honor it was to be
part of a show with Paul Simon, a member of the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of Simon
& Garfunkel. “It truly is one of the greatest thrills of my
life to share a stage with this fella,” Gill said in
introducing Simon. “He is one of the greatest American
songwriters of all time.” Later, Gill said it was “a bucket
list moment” after performing the guitar solo on Simon’s
“The Boxer,” an instrumental part originally created by the
late Nashville session great Fred Carter.
Simon also performed “Sounds of Silence” and “Me and Julio
Down by the Schoolyard,” a song about New York, he noted.
Simon also said he agreed to perform without realizing his
beloved New York Yankees would be in a playoff game that
night. He then asked for the score and grimaced when told
his team was behind at the moment.
Simon also spoke of the time he visited the Country Music
Hall of Fame and Museum in the past, with Harris as his
guide. “I thought it was an extraordinary treasure trove of
American history,” Simon said. “I’m pleased and honored to
be able to be a participant tonight.”
Paisley noted that he felt “completely out of my element”
being onstage with so many of his musical idols, after
wisecracking that he had dreamed of this moment in the past,
“except that in the dream I’m completely naked.”
Underwood began by saying she felt “equal parts nervous and
honored to be on this stage tonight.” Singing with just an
acoustic guitar made her “feel exposed,” she said, adding
with a laugh, “Not the underwear type of exposed, but
musically exposed.” She and her guitarist, Shawn Tubbs, then
performed her current hit, “Smoke Break”—the first time
Underwood ever performed it in such an instrumentally bare
All of the artists spoke about the power of songs to move
and motivate people—and underlined the importance of music
education in public schools. Harris emphasized how music
helps open the minds of schoolkids and has been proven to
stimulate brain activity, making it just as important as
other academic disciplines.
Underwood told of how music classes and choir practice made
her excited about going to school. She did well in other
areas, she said, but it was music education that made her
eager to attend classes each day.
The concert didn’t feature a set list. The performers
decided what to sing on the spur of the moment, inspired by
what someone else had played or by the mood they were in
when their turn came. As Gill noted, guitar pulls
traditionally aren’t just an artist or songwriter performing
their biggest hits. It’s also a chance to show off new
material, or, in this evening’s case, pull out a favorite
cover song, as Simon did when ending the show with the
Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved,” with Gill on high
harmony—and the rest of the artists eventually joining in.
Both Harris and Paisley honored recently deceased heroes of
theirs. Harris opened with her rendition of Jesse
Winchester’s “My Songbird,” which she had recorded in 1978
on her album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town.
Paisley included a verse and chorus of Country Music Hall of
Fame member Little Jimmy Dickens’ “Country Boy” before going
into his own hit “Southern Comfort Zone.”
The evening’s first standing ovation came for a group of
sixth graders from the Pelham Gardens Middle School in the
Bronx. Songwriter Liz Rose (“White Horse,” “You Belong with
Me,” “Girl Crush”) worked with students from the school to
create an original song using lyrics the students wrote.
Armed with guitars and ukuleles, and with
songwriter-guitarist Phil Barton helping out, the students
and Rose sang the upbeat “Everybody’s Perfect,” delighting
the loudly cheering crowd.
The song represented the museum’s long-running
Words & Music
program, which pairs professional songwriters with students,
giving them a chance to express themselves while learning
about the process of songwriting. With partners Education
Through Music, a New York-based non-profit, the museum will
work with several other New York schools through the
2015-2016 school year.
The proceeds of the All for the Hall New York
concert will be earmarked for the museum’s education
department, which interacted with more than 160,000 people
in 2014. Between ticket sales and a spirited live auction,
the event netted more than $150,000 and demonstrated the
national and international reach of the Museum and its
award-winning educational programs.
The All for the Hall series—produced by museum
board members Rod Essig, Ken Levitan and Jody Williams—began
in New York in 2007 and repeated there in 2008. The series
has alternated between Los Angeles and New York each
succeeding year, always hosted by Gill and Harris. Gill also
co-hosts a regular Nashville All for the Hall
concert with Keith Urban. The series was conceived by Gill
and has gained a reputation for one-of-a-kind concerts.
A sampling of past performers includes Gregg Allman, Zac
Brown, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, Melissa Etheridge,
Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, Lionel
Richie, Taylor Swift, Dwight Yoakam and many others.
Each performer took four turns—one more than originally
planned. When Gill asked the audience if they wanted an
extra go-around, the crowd cheered an emphatic yes. Harris’
guitar tech had already packed up her instrument, so she had
to borrow Gill’s to sing her last number, “My Name Is Emmett
Till.” Underwood could be seen discussing possible song
choices with her guitarist. They chose the humorous up-tempo
tune “Last Name.”
The All for the Hall New York concert once again
showed how intertwined country music is with other forms of
popular music. Exploring those connections, and the cultural
and historical importance of American music across
generations, is part of the mission of the Country Music
Hall of Fame and Museum, and a story it tells every day in
its exhibits and educational programs.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the
Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated
by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3)
educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee
in 1964. The museum’s mission is the preservation of the
history of country and related vernacular music rooted in
southern culture. With the same educational mission, the
foundation also operates CMF Records, the museum’s Frist
Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and
Hatch Show Print®.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and
Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or
by calling (615) 416-2001.
Museum programs are funded in part by the BlueCross
BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation; Marylee Chaski
Charitable Corporation; Cisco; Chet Atkins Fund of The
Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee; Connie
Dean-Taylor, In Memory of Her Father, Country Music Hall of
Fame Member Jimmy Dean; Country Music Association; Dollar
General Literacy Foundation; HCA Foundation; Metropolitan
Nashville Arts Commission; National Endowment for the Arts;
Publix Super Markets Charities; PCS Knox; Promethean;
Southwest Airlines; Tennessee Arts Commission; and Wells
An Official Travel Partner of the Country Music Hall of Fame