Rita Wilson to Host 'CMT GIANTS' Tribute to Kenny Rogers

Rita Wilson has been announced as the host for CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers: A Benefit For MusiCares, CMT's upcoming special honoring the late Kenny Rogers. The show airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CMT and will encore on MTV Live on Friday at 8 p.m. ET and CMT on Saturday and Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

"Kenny Rogers introduced so many to country music," Wilson said in a statement. "His songs crossed over into many genres. I'll never forget the evocative angst in Kenny's voice on 'Ruby,' the unmistakable hooks and his unique, authentic ability to tell a story in 'The Gambler,' and of course, the perfection of his duet with Dolly Parton, 'Islands in the Stream.' Kenny's impact has been indelible. It's an honor to be hosting CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers and to share in an evening of Kenny's songs with so many iconic artists."

The broadcast will feature virtual performances and interviews from Rogers' friends and other artists including Dolly Parton, Gavin DeGraw, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Jennifer Nettles, Lady Antebellum, Lionel Richie, Michael McDonald, Randy Houser, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill and more. Rogers' friends and collaborators including songwriter Don Schlitz ("The Gambler") and singer-songwriter Kim Carnes ("Don't Fall in Love With A Dreamer") will also join the broadcast.

Each contributor will film their segment from their homes, and the performances will be interspersed with rare archival photos, interviews and performances as well as clips and commentary from Rogers. There will also be an appearance from from Rogers' longtime band and crew including tour manager Gene Roy, technical director Frank Farrell, production manager Keith Bugos and band member Steve Glassmeyer.

The special will benefit MusiCares' COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is collecting funds to distribute to artists, musicians and other professionals in the music industry who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. When the broadcast airs on Wednesday, fans can donate directly to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund by visiting musicares.org/kennyrogers and texting KENNYCARES to 41444 during the broadcast.


"Kenny Rogers transcended genres and generations with his musical versatility, legendary collaborations and timeless appeal, and we're honored to pay tribute to his legacy," Executive Producer and Vice President of Production, Music & Events, CMT Margaret Comeaux said in a statement, via PEOPLE. "Particularly in these turbulent times, we'll stop and take a moment to allow the memory of our dear friend Kenny to bring us together and inspire us to lend support to those in the music community who are most in need."

Photo Credit: Getty / Mike Coppola