A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is revealed each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown .
“You know, there’s not a lot of people who have sold that many records or had an impact on music in general as much as Michael Jackson,” said Young. “I have a lot of Michael songs downloaded on my phone. It probably rivals any one country artist that I have, except for a couple of guys. I mean, I doubt anybody wouldn’t want to have the size and scope of his musical career, I don’t care what genre you’re in.”
“How can you not respect and love Michael Jackson as an artist,” Worsham agreed. “That’s a persona that didn’t exist until there was Michael.
“He was a part of so many different eras of music, and he’s one of those guys who it didn’t matter whether he was the most popular thing at the time or not, you had to take note of what he was doing. His influence on groove and beat and rhythm and the way he infused dancing and entertainment — not just being a fantastic musician and singer — is something I think we can all learn from, especially in today’s world. You can’t just get up and sing. You have to entertain people, and he was the quintessential entertainer.”
“I think I always seem to relate [to Jackson] in a lot of ways because I was such a kid, too, when I started out,” Rimes said. “To me, he is one of the best singers that’s ever lived and entertainers. He had the most insane voice of any 5-year-old that I’ve ever heard, and the way he connected with the crowd, the way he was so multi-talented and really good at every bit of it. His music … lived on and will live on forever.”
“I met and got to know Michael Jackson pretty well,” Rogers said. “There’s a guy that was so troubled, but he was so talented. I watched that This Is It documentary. The guy … had 19-year-old kids out of breath from dancing with him. … Music wasn’t just something he did. That’s what he was. He was his music. He not only sang great, but he danced great. He understood what his package was and how to do it.”
“Michael Jackson’s one of my very favorite performers of all time,” said Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry. “And actually, when we get ready to put together an ACM or a CMA Awards performance, we start by looking for Michael Jackson videos. We are always intensely inspired by his dancing but also just his presence onstage.
“You know our performance for ’Done’ at the ACMs [in 2013]? There was this Michael video where he was starting his show, and he popped on to the stage somehow and just stood there. Now, we stood there for like five seconds for dramatic effect [during the ACM performance], but he stood there for about a minute. And the crowd was just roaring.”
“I think it got louder actually,” Neil Perry added.
“I think he’s so cool because he crossed all genre boundaries, national/international boundaries, race boundaries. Everybody was in love with this guy,” Kimberly concluded. “Just a phenomenal entertainer.”
Check out the rest of the CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice list, and find out who will be announced each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.