George Strait, Lionel Richie Make Surprise Appearances at UMG's CRS Showcase

George Strait and Lionel Richie were the surprise bookends during a private concert Wednesday (Feb. 22) at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium during the Universal Music Group's showcase at the annual Country Radio Seminar. Strait, who charted his first single for the company's MCA Nashville label in 1981, opened the show that was attended by radio programmers and personalities. Backed by guitarists Mac McAnally and Steve Gibson, Strait performed "I'll Always Remember You" and "Troubadour." He was presented a plaque commemorating his first-ever No. 1 single as a songwriter. He wrote the title track of his latest album, Here for a Good Time, with his son Bubba and veteran songwriter Dean Dillon. It topped the Mediabase airplay chart. In addition to the plaque, he was also presented a guitar from ASCAP, the performance rights organization, to commemorate the achievement. "I should've started doing this a long time ago," Strait joked. "Think of all the guitars I could've been given." Others performing at the show included artists from the MCA and Mercury labels, including Lee Ann Womack, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Laura Bell Bundy and the Randy Rogers Band. Richie closed the midday show by inviting Luke Bryan to join him on "Easy." Richie will release Tuskegee, featuring duets with country artists of several of his biggest hits, on March 26.

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