The Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban and Alison Krauss performed James Taylor’s classic songs when he was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year during a dinner and concert Monday (Feb. 6) at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
One of the events leading up to the 48th annual Grammy Awards show taking place Wednesday (Feb. 8) at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the evening was a fundraiser for MusicCares, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to those in need in the music industry. Others paying musical tributes to Taylor included Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, Carole King, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Dr. John and Taj Mahal.
Prior to their performance, Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks attributed Taylor’s career longevity to the quality of his music.
“I think you can only last this long in the business when you’re making the best music, and he’s just one of those people and he’s still doing it today,” Robison told CMT Insider’s Lisa Lee. “He totally inspired us growing up. I know he doesn’t like to hear stuff like that, but [he is] the soundtrack to our lives, to a lot of people’s lives, I’m sure. After meeting him, it was kind of nice to know that he was even better than I had imagined he would be. Nicer, sweeter. Just pure class.”
Dixie Chicks lead vocalist Natalie Maines declined to comment about the latest controversy created after she told Entertainment Weekly magazine she’s “pretty much done” with country music.
“Everybody’s been talking about us this week?” she said to Lee before adding, “All we have to say is we’re ready to get back and have everybody hear the new album.” (The Dixie Chicks have been working with producer Rick Rubin for an album expected to be released in April.)
The Dixie Chicks performed “Shower the People,” a song they sang with Taylor in 2002 during an episode of CMT Crossroads, and Krauss chose “Carolina in My Mind.” With girlfriend Nicole Kidman in the audience, Keith Urban delivered “Country Road.”
On the red carpet, Taylor spoke of his love of country music.
“I love the Dixie Chicks,” he told CMT Insider. “We’ve worked a lot together, did some political work together. … I met them first backstage at the Albert Hall in London, and ever since then, we’ve tried to get together and work as often as we can. That’s a great thing.
“And Keith and I are both managed by Gary Borman, so that’s how I was introduced to him. His stuff is so strong. It’s so great of him to show up tonight and do this. He’s in the middle of a hell week of gigs. … I have a lot of friends and have felt a huge amount of support from the country music end of things. From the first time Johnny Cash asked me to play the Ryman to Garth Brooks being so outspoken and supportive of me. … I met George Jones the last time I played in Nashville, and it was great. I grew up in North Carolina listening to country music. It’s a big part of the music that formed me, and I can’t get enough.”
Taylor closed the show with a series of songs before encoring with his signature hit, “Fire and Rain.”
“It’s strange to be at an event like this and still be alive,” Taylor told the crowd. “It’s very moving, very terrifying and very wonderful to hear these songs done live.”