Dolly Parton was one of the featured artists on CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers: A Benefit For MusiCares, and the country music icon honored her longtime friend with a cover of his song "Sweet Music Man." Wearing all white and playing her guitar surrounded by white candles on black pillars, Parton paid tribute to Rogers with a sweet and somber rendition of his song.
"Oh, but nobody sings a love song quite like you do," she sang. "Oh, and nobody else can make me sing along / Nobody else can make me feel things are right / When I know they're wrong, but nobody sings a love song quite like you." "Sweet Music Man" appears on Rogers' 1977 album Daytime Friends and was released as the project's final single. Later that year, Parton included the song on her own album Here You Come Again.
The special was hosted by Rita Wilson and also featured Gavin DeGraw, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Jennifer Nettles, Lady Antebellum, Lionel Richie, Michael McDonald, Randy Houser, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill, songwriter Don Schlitz ("The Gambler") and singer-songwriter Kim Carnes ("Don't Fall in Love With A Dreamer"). Performances were interspersed with rare archival photos, interviews and performances as well as clips and commentary from Rogers.
Rogers died at age 81 on March 20 of natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. The next day, Parton shared an emotional video remembering her longtime friend. "I know that we all know Kenny is in a better place than we are today," she said in the clip. "But, I'm pretty sure he's gonna be talking to God sometime today, if he ain't already. He's going to be asking him to spread some light on a bunch of this darkness going on here. I loved Kenny with all my heart and, and my heart is broken, and a big old chunk of it has gone with him today. I think I can speak for all his family, his friends, and fans when I say that I will always love you."
"You never know how much you love somebody until they're gone," she added in her caption. "I've had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly."