Alabama's Randy Owen broke down over a recent performance by Michael Ray and Jake Owen, along with help by Clint Black. The singers were all together on stage, as part of the annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids.
The song they performed, "Lady Down on Love," Ray said was the third song he ever learned to play, when he was just getting started. In an impromptu — and flawless — performance, Owen began to sing, before the other three singers traded lines back and forth, while Owen broke down in tears.
"Being able to be on stage with Randy and Clint Black and Jake. Randy, I just wanted him to know that those songs are not forgotten," Ray later told PopCulture.com. "There's artists that are wanting to keep those alive and to keep their legacy alive, and to know that Jake and I wouldn't be sitting on the stage if it wasn't for artists like Clint Black and Alabama.
"So I just wanted him to know that my third song I ever learned was that song," he continued. "We started singing and that moment happened. It was lightning in a bottle at a moment."
Ray grew up playing in a family band in a small Florida town, where he cut his proverbial teeth on the traditional music from some of his musical heroes.
"I've had people ask me, 'Was that planned?'" Ray recalled. "I said, 'Not one ounce of it.' Jake didn't even know. It was a way to pay respect to Randy Owen and Alabama. For me, sitting on stage going, 'If the 12-year-old kid in Eustis, Florida, playing in his grandpa's band could see where this would lead him now.'"
"I grew up on a lot of the traditional country music, and I grew up on Alabama," he added. "I remember my family's band playing 'Lady Down on Love' and 'Mountain Music,' and my family's band trying to get the harmonies as tight as Alabama."
This year's Country Cares for St. Jude Kids marked the 30th anniversary of the event, created and led by Owen, which to date has raised more than $800 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. For Ray, it meant just as much to honor Owen's legacy with St. Jude as to honor the country music icon's incredible music career.
"It was just a moment that it all fell together, and it fell together for a man that's done so much greatness with his platform that he's been given and being the face of Country Cares, and his passion with St. Jude," Ray commented. "Just him being in that room with so many people that he's helped touched the lives of and helped St. Jude reach so many people's minds and hearts, it was just incredible."
"There was something special that whole night," Ray added. "There was something in air that night. I was telling so many people afterwards. I go, 'There was something special about that night all around." It was in the air, we all could feel it."
Jake was the recipient of the Randy Owen Angels Among Us Award, honoring his numerous charitable contributions over the years to St. Jude. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital offers completely free medical care for children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. They also offer families a place to stay while their child is receiving treatment, along with other forms of support, including food and other necessities, completely free of charge. For more information, visit stjude.org.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of St. Jude